Uptime Institute launches a strategic and practical guide for data center sustainability

by Brianna Crandall — April 29, 2022 — Uptime Institute, a global digital infrastructure authority, recently announced a Uptime Institute logonew Executive Advisory report series titled Digital Infrastructure Sustainability — A Manager’s Guide, and released the first installment: Creating a Sustainability Strategy. The new advisory series is a strategic and practical resource that owners and operators can use to establish and implement an effective sustainability strategy.

The launch of this comprehensive executive advisory series is the latest step in Uptime’s longstanding and expanding program to inform, guide and support sustainability efforts within the sector — and it comes at a critical time for digital infrastructure operators, says the group. Governments worldwide are beginning to establish new regulations and promulgate new policies to discourage unsustainable data center growth, drive procurement of low-carbon data center services, and move toward net-zero carbon emissions goals.

However, research by Uptime clearly shows that most organizations have not put in place many of the strategies, processes and controls they will need to meet all stakeholder expectations and legislator demands. According to Uptime’s 2021 Global Data Center Survey, most organizations tend to only compile and report on power-related sustainability metrics, while far too few are tracking other key elements such as water use (just 51%), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (just 33%), and IT efficiency (just 25%).

The first report in the series, Creating a Sustainability Strategy, defines the key elements to include in a sustainability strategy, the actions necessary for a successful implementation, and the processes required to measure progress against goals and objectives.

The complete series of six reports takes managers through the key areas that must be addressed in an environmental sustainability strategy, ranging from creating the strategy, reducing energy consumption, buying renewable energy, tracking and reporting carbon emissions, managing water consumption, and equipment reuse and recycling. The advisory series also provides guidance on compliance with and the adoption of critical standards and legislative initiatives, many of which are both confused and confusing.

Andy Lawrence, founding member and executive director, Uptime Intelligence, stated:

As sustainability requirements become more demanding, digital infrastructure operators must be prepared with a comprehensive, actionable sustainability strategy.

Jay Dietrich, research director of Sustainability, Uptime Intelligence, and lead author of the report series, added:

This advisory series is a “how-to” guide to implementing effective environmental sustainability initiatives that span all facilities and IT operations and address the needs of all stakeholders inside and outside the organization.

Uptime has been advising operators of digital infrastructure on sustainability and efficiency since 2007, the year of the first Uptime Institute Green Data Center forum. Through its Sustainability Consulting Services and related offerings, Uptime advises some of the world’s largest digital infrastructure owners and operators, many vendors and equipment manufacturers, regulators and policymakers to help the sector design, build and operate digital infrastructure sustainably — without compromising resiliency.

Upcoming reports in the series:

  • Glossary of Digital Infrastructure Sustainability — This document explains the key terms used by those defining, regulating, and applying digital infrastructure sustainability strategies.
  • Three Sustainability Elements: Water, the Circular Economy and Siting — This report discusses three important elements of the sustainability strategy: water use; siting, including design and certification; and reuse, disposal, and recycling. Addressing these elements can significantly reduce the environmental impact of digital infrastructure.
  • Navigating Regulations and Standards — Critical digital infrastructure is subject to an expanding set of regulations, directives and standards, with varying levels of maturity and acceptance. Most are voluntary, but more are becoming mandatory.
  • IT Efficiency: The Critical Core of Digital Sustainability — A digital sustainability strategy should incorporate both the facilities and IT operations, even for colocation operators. This report covers strategies, software tools and metrics that can help drive up IT efficiency.
  • Tackling Greenhouse Gases — Operators of digital infrastructure must have a greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal that takes into account Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions — and they must report these reductions in accordance with agreed policy.
  • Reducing the Energy Footprint — The first objective of a sustainability plan is to minimize energy use through efficiency measures. Further benefits will be realized by replacing electricity from nonrenewable sources with renewably generated energy.

Upcoming digital infrastructure sustainability webinars

Uptime will be hosting a webinar series to deliver in-depth insights and to facilitate discussions following the release of each report. Scheduled for Tuesday, May 10 at 9:00 a.m. PDT, the first webinar will cover the Creating a Sustainability Strategy report. The second webinar will take place on Tuesday, June 7 at 9:00 a.m. PDT and will explore both the Tackling Greenhouse Gases and Reducing the Energy Footprint reports. The webinar schedule is available online.

Uptime Institute Network Members, touted as the world’s largest group of data center owners and operators, will have exclusive access to the complete contents of each installment of the report series upon release, while non-members will have access to executive summary copies.

The Executive Summary of the first report is available online to download, as will be each subsequent report.

Learn more about Uptime Institute Network Membership and request a free guest trial on the group’s website.

For over 25 years, Uptime Institute has served as a standard for data center reliability, sustainability, and efficiency, providing customers assurance that their digital infrastructure can perform at a level that is consistent with their business needs across a wide array of operating conditions. With its data center Tier Standard & Certifications (for the proper design, construction, and operation of data centers), Management & Operations reviews, broad range of related risk and performance assessments, and accredited educational curriculum completed by over 10,000 data center professionals, New York-headquartered Uptime Institute has helped thousands of companies in over 100 countries to optimize critical IT assets while managing costs, resources, and efficiency.