The term, “data centre sustainability” refers to how environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient a data centre is. Achieving optimum sustainability involves reducing carbon emissions, energy and water consumption to offset the impact of ever-increasing computing capacity in the age of, AI and the Internet of Things.

Data centre sustainability can contribute to protecting the broader environment and has moved to the top of the priority list for many operators for precisely that reason. This is largely driven by customer demand as 52% of businesses cite meeting sustainability goals as a priority for the future, as evidenced in our latest Climate Crunch report. However, businesses that achieve sustainable operations attain other benefits, including making themselves more attractive to increasingly environmentally conscious customers.


How sustainable are data centres

The data centre industry has made great strides in becoming more sustainable in recent years, having embraced the green challenge to protect the planet and meet global carbon emission targets. There is no doubt that achieving sustainability has been, and continues to be, a challenging task for providers due to the volumes of energy needed to power the facilities. A recent survey of 825 multi-tenant data centre operators by S&P revealed 43% have strategic sustainability programmes in place, proving strong commitment across the industry towards net-zero.


Data centres looking to embrace green goals

Moving forwards, we can expect to see data centres increasingly embracing goals around enhanced sustainability. With over 60% of businesses expecting both renewable fuel sources and the measuring of carbon emissions from their potential providers, data centres have little choice but to implement greener measures and make better progress in Scope 3 emission reporting, or risk losing their competitive edge.

This is also partly, driven by regulation. New sustainability disclosure requirements expected to be brought in by the Treasury will require data centre providers to report on their impact on the climate and environment. In the future, organisations will also have to justify their sustainability claims and polish their net zero transition plans to ensure they can substantiate them.

Investors are also increasingly interested in putting money into the most sustainable data centres, which they see as a sound place to invest capital over the long-term.

Today, we are witnessing a growing push towards greener data centres. Many operators are focusing on achieving net-zero emissions by the year 2050, which requires designing their data centres with energy efficiency at the core of their strategy.


What data centres do to be more sustainable

  • Reuse waste heat – Data centres use electric power, releasing more of this electricity as heat. The data centre’s waste heat can be actively reused, and a sustainable data centre can export this heat to the city district heating system. The waste heat they generate will be used to heat homes, as well as business and public premises in the area.
  • Use modular data centres – Delivering sustainable data centre design is important. A modular data centre can be placed anywhere data capacity is needed. They are designed for energy efficiency, high density and fast
  • Use lower power servers – When used correctly, low-power servers can be more efficient than conventional servers. They can significantly impact data-centre efficiency, decreasing power consumption and the cooling facility costs
  • Hot and cold aisle containment – The hot aisle/cold aisle layout helps prevent hot exhaust air from blending with cold “supply” air, resulting in cooling savings from 10-35%. More efficient airflow supports slower fan speeds and more regular use of “free cooling” from air-side or water-side economisers
  • Leverage green computing – Organisations that use green computing methods often deploy energy-efficient central processing units, servers, peripherals and power systems to make certain they are leveraging computing equipment in an energy-efficient and eco-friendly way
  • Support flexible working – Hybrid and flexible working options reduce employees compute emissions while lessening data centre energy use
  • Avoid siloed applications – Such applications tend to result in data redundancies and emit more carbon
  • Analyse greenhouse emissions – To optimise the energy impact of a sustainable data centre, monitoring and performance indicators like energy and water consumption, and the amount of waste specific to each data centre should be defined. This should include reporting on both mandatory Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, as well as voluntary Scope 3 emissions across the supply chain, as per the leading GHG Protocol. In parallel, it’s recommended to monitor four other indicators essential for measuring technical, energy and environmental performance:
    • Power Usage Effectiveness, an indicator reflecting the energy-efficiency of the data centres
    • Carbon Usage Effectiveness, which measures the quantity of greenhouse gases produced by a data centre;
    • Water Usage Effectiveness, which defines the amount of water used per site;
    • The carbon footprint in kg CO²-eq, which calculates greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Liquid Cooling Technology

There is ongoing pressure to reduce the energy consumption and increase total design maximum of Data centre. Energy cost (kWh) is increasing dramatically. Energy capture of waste heat to heat buildings or contributing heat back to the utility company are examples of further improving energy effectiveness. Liquid cooled solutions allow a reduction of PUE to less than 1.1.


Telehouse and global sustainability

At Telehouse, we’re committed to operations that help ensure a safe, sustainable future for our planet and communities. That’s why our Telehouse corporate responsibility pledge includes our commitment to data centres powered by 100% renewable energy, effectively creating eco-friendly data centres.

We acknowledge that our industry can have an impact on energy consumption and on our natural resources. However, the growth in cloud, virtualisation and cooling technologies are contributing to data centre efficiency.

We recently partnered with EkkoSense to achieve 461 tonnes reduction in CO2 carbon emissions at our Telehouse North site by the end of 2022, with our initial trial allowing us to reduce cooling power consumption by 10%.

Telehouse customers benefit from housing their IT infrastructure within an efficient resilient data centre facility that provides a portfolio of energy-efficient hardware and the world’s first multi-storey indirect adiabatic cooling system.


Telehouse services

Whether an organisation is looking to purchase network services infrastructure, relocate equipment, or needs data centre migration services – Telehouse is here to provide solutions and support their businesses. Anyone wanting to know more about data centre sustainability should access the contact form here.