Quantifying Data Center Scope 3 GHG Emissions to Prioritize Reduction Efforts

Aug. 24, 2023
More data centers are transitioning to renewable energy sources. As this happens, Scope 3 becomes a data center’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This category of emissions is also the least reported and understood.

Quantifying Scope 3 emissions is one of the most important issues the industry is facing. In this paper, we use a single hypothetical data center to demonstrate how to quantify Scope 3 emissions and identify the largest emission sources. We provide a calculator that estimates a data center’s lifecycle carbon footprint and other assessment tools. Finally, we describe best practices for reducing emissions. This paper and the “Data Center Lifecycle CO2e Calculator” TradeOff Tool mark the first comprehensive attempt to quantify the details driving Scope 3 in an enterprise data center.

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