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The data center sits at the heart of the hyper-connected world, but across the industry, the issue of sustainability is a critical concern.

As one of the largest global data center operators, we’ve been striving to minimize the impact that our operations have on the planet and building and powering data centers sustainably is at the heart of this ambition.

Our global data center platform, with more than 600,000m2 across 20 countries, is a core component of our digital backbone and we’re continually expanding our data center footprint to better serve the needs of our clients. This year we’re investing over USD 1 billion in new data center facilities, but these new data centers need to meet the increasingly high standards we’re setting for ourselves. An example of this is our recently completed London 1 Data Center which received a BREEAM Excellent green build rating.

A global challenge

The greatest challenge for all data center operators remains finding sustainable ways to power the data center. Apart from the computing infrastructure cooling data centers remains highly energy-intensive. To address this and to meet the demands of our clients for more sustainable options we’ve been actively investing in renewable energy options. Already more than 40% of the energy we use comes from renewable sources. We’re aiming to increase that number to 100% power by 2030, something that requires a more innovative approach. Finding solutions to increase access to renewable energy is a priority for us, and we’re working with local power utilities as well as building our own on-site capabilities to achieve this.

One way in which we’re doing this is through a joint venture with Tata Power in India to build a 50MW solar photovoltaic power plant to power our data centers. We’re also considering the availability of renewable energy when planning our new data centers. With the cost of renewable energy falling all the time there is a natural tendency for new data centers to be built where energy is more affordable and there is adequate renewable energy.

Energy efficiency

The transformation doesn’t just apply to our data centers, we’re developing decarbonization plans that cover both our operations and our supply chain.

Energy efficiency remains a key component of this process. We’re continuously looking at all aspects of our organizations, examining how we can improve the overall energy efficiency of our operations. Already our energy efficiency program has improved the energy efficiency of our data centers over the last seven years by more than 20%. This has been bolstered by continued research and development investment on a global scale, exploring new ways to sustainably power future operations.

Energy efficiency and overall sustainability are essential discussions that the entire industry needs to have. However, large data centers have had a positive impact already, increasing the overall efficiency of the world’s digital infrastructure. Despite the energy they consume they enable many other areas to reduce their environmental impact, boosting online commerce and reducing business travel.

This commitment to building environmentally sustainable data centers and growing our use of renewable energy in pursuit of 100% renewable energy use by 2030 is just a small part of our larger sustainability ambition. With a triple focus on three interconnected pillars: Connected Planet, Connected Economy and Connected Communities we aim to accelerate sustainable and transformational change for the entire world.