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Data Centres: Working Towards a Sustainable Future

Author: Jim Hines

Published date: 2022/02

Prs Data Centre

Data centres are the backbone of today’s digital world, providing critical infrastructure for everyday business and social life. As a result of the pandemic, the market is predicted to grow even more due to the increased need to boost IT performance, flexibility and security. 

However, data centres also consume around 3% of the global electricity supply and account for about 2% of the world’s carbon emissions. In fact, according to a report from The Shift Project, carbon emissions from tech infrastructure and the data servers that enable cloud computing now exceed those of pre-Covid air travel. The report also estimated that tech emissions are rising by 6% annually. 

Such stark figures have prompted some sector leaders to act. Google has committed to operating on 24/7 carbon-free energy for all its data centres and campuses worldwide by 2030. Similarly, Microsoft has pledged to shift to a 100% renewable energy supply for its data centres, buildings, and campuses.

As the sector continues its upward trajectory, organisations have a social responsibility to their communities to ensure operations are as sustainable as possible. Here are some ways that operators of all sizes can ensure greener practices for a more sustainable future.

Hone your strategy

A sustainable strategy should be ambitious yet achievable. Clear objectives should be set with actions prioritised against a realistic timeline. Crucially, each area of the organisation should be aligned, with design, procurement, operations, leadership and sustainability teams working together towards the same goals. 

Aim for 100% renewable energy

A 2021 FT article highlighted some of the problems behind “net-zero” pledges. Senior research affiliate at Uptime Institute, David Mytton, stated that while organisations can reach net-zero goals by buying clean energy from other companies, they don’t actually reduce the amount of dirty energy they produce themselves. It’s led some experts to accuse these companies of ‘greenwashing’. To combat this, more organisations are exploring ways to establish operations that rely on renewables for 100% of their energy, which is primarily achieved through investment in renewables infrastructure.

Analyse your supply chain

Given that supply chains contribute to an organisation’s carbon footprint, it’s becoming more common for data centre operators to work exclusively with vendors that embrace a circular economy mindset. A sustainable supplier is transparent about the environmental impact of their products and services. Taking it a step further, they will be able to produce a Product Environmental Profile (PEP) or an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) which provides more detailed information about materials, operations, compliance, and recyclability. 

Invest in skills and education

Data centre operators are increasingly investing in the right personnel to help them turn sustainable promises into action. Key to this is the appointment of energy managers who are primarily responsible for reporting on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Specialist roles aside, sustainability goals can only be met through the full cooperation of everyone within an organisation. Education on environmental issues coupled with frequent communication on organisational initiatives and progress is vital to gain employee buy-in. 

Looking for data centre talent in 2022?

To learn more about our dedicated data centre division and connect with talented professionals at all skill and experience levels, call our team on 0207 553 5660 or email info@prsjobs.com. Alternatively, speak directly with PRS data centre leader Jim Hines on 07947842455 or email Jim.Hines@prsjobs.com

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