Doubling Down on Renewable Power

Sept. 10, 2018
In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Aaron Binkley, senior director of sustainability at Digital Realty, explores how data center providers are capturing sustainability gains by switching to clean energy and renewable power. 

In this edition of Voices of the IndustryAaron Binkley, senior director of sustainability at Digital Realty, explores how data center providers are capturing sustainability gains by switching to clean energy and renewable power. 

Aaron Binkley, Director of Sustainability, Digital Realty

Powerful and transformative to how businesses run today, the cloud is the backbone of the economy.  But what’s the backbone of the cloud?  The physical infrastructure required to make it possible.

With the increasing advancements in technology and demands on the cloud, the presence of data center infrastructure has skyrocketed. The physical space and power required to fuel these critical facilities is a massive part of the world’s ecosystem. And without a renewable energy focus, the effects could be devastating to our climate.

Of course, action speaks louder than words, which is why we at Digital Realty nearly doubled our renewable footprint in Northern California in just one year.

It’s Never Been More Critical to Go Green

As the largest wholesale data center provider in the world, we know we carry responsibility for reducing our carbon footprint, and also empowering our customers to reach their sustainability goals through our solutions. The best way to enact change is to lead by example, which is why we’re focused on making our entire portfolio green.

Artificial intelligence is driving a massive data load and changing the way the we all do business.

While efforts to improve the energy efficiency of data centers—such as cooling system upgrades, expanding the operating parameters of data halls, and optimizing air flow by using smart sensors and controls—will remain an important area of focus, organizations are also capturing sustainability gains by switching to clean energy.

There are several ways to source clean energy, including:

  • Purchasing green power from the local electric utility
  • Purchasing clean energy directly from a renewable energy project developer
  • Constructing and operating on-site renewable energy equipment

Empowering Sustainability Through Action

Take a look at what we’ve done in Northern California.

In just one year, Digital Realty has increased renewable energy in Northern California from 45% to 92%, doubling our renewable footprint in the region.

Achieving this required three substantive actions:

  1. We teamed up with San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to enable the switch to greenhouse gas-free power for our 365 Main Street data center, a project that makes us one of The SFPUC’s largest clean energy customers.The switch will substantially reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 24 million pounds of CO2 annually.
  2. We moved our entire Oakland data center to a 100% renewable energy supply, taking advantage of a new Community Energy
  3. In Santa Clara—in the heart of Silicon Valley—we advocated for greater access to renewables. Working closely with the utility, we voiced the need for renewable energy until it was made available and implemented across 11 data center properties.

These efforts have a meaningful impact on our carbon footprint in one of the world’s most iconic regions and the global technology hub of Silicon Valley.

 Planning for the Collective, Intelligent Future

Artificial intelligence (AI) is driving a massive data load and changing the way the we all do business.

Forrester’s principal analyst, Andre Kindness, discussed AI and the second wave of the cloud and AI’s impact on the data center industry on this webinar with Digital Realty, The Second Wave of the Cloud is Here: Are you Ready?.

AI is a driving factor for data centers. On one hand, AI applications thrive on the compute power that data centers provide. On the other, AI can be used to help create efficiencies in how data centers run, from security applications to energy management.

We are all in this together. While we do have one of the largest portfolios of green building certifications in the data center industry and a rapidly progressing sustainability strategy, we recognize this is a continuous and collective effort. We need to lower our carbon footprint. Our industry must tackle solutions with the best and brightest of minds and technologies.

Learn more about Digital Realty’s sustainability commitment

Aaron Binkley is senior director of sustainability at Digital Realty.

About the Author

Voices of the Industry

Our Voice of the Industry feature showcases guest articles on thought leadership from sponsors of Data Center Frontier. For more information, see our Voices of the Industry description and guidelines.

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