Did you know data centers and the digital infrastructure economy consume over 2.4% of the world’s energy? Believe it. It’s been reported that the world’s digital infrastructure, as of 2021, included over seven million data centers worldwide, representing 105GW of power capacity consuming 594TWhs of energy. And yes, this equates to 2.4% of total global energy consumption, an eye-opening number!
It’s for reasons like this, the industry is joining forces. And while it typically may be hard for even a handful of companies to agree upon a common goal, nearly 170 digital infrastructure companies have united around a common mission to reach carbon zero. Founded to bring the industry together to reduce its collective carbon footprint in materials, products, and power, the iMasons Climate Accord (ICA) is a historic cooperative of companies, with an epic mission ahead.
In a recent JSA Virtual Roundtable: Getting to Carbon Zero and iMasons Climate Accord, T5 Data Center’s Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, Craig McKesson, along with Dean Nelson, Founder and Chairman of iMasons and Adam Kramer, CEO of nZero, a carbon management platform, discussed why industry collaboration is essential to develop and drive ideas that ultimately lead to real, measurable results. In Part 1 of this blog series, we highlight some key takeaways from the discussion:
- 1. Setting the Standards for Future Generations: There’s little doubt that the work industry leaders do now to support initiatives, such as the iMasons Climate Accord, could have the biggest impact on not only the respective companies involved, but also on future generations. The focus has to be on making sure the future is going to be sustainable for the next generation which is predisposed to understanding the technological challenges and innovations that are simultaneously a cause and a force for change.
- 2. The Industry is Scaling Quickly and so is Our Impact: Digital infrastructure is also expanding and fueling emerging markets, which will continue to impact our planet. Clearly, this is not an easy fix or even a quick solution. There are big questions to address but also huge opportunities. In order to be thoughtful and impactful in creating real change, we must think about the context of the digital infrastructure industry – our history, where we are today, and where we are heading. Everything is growing exponentially, and larger MW sites are becoming more commonplace which means that power consumption levels and environmental impacts will only continue to grow.
- 3. Micro vs. Macro: While industry leaders work together to define and bring about change at the macro level, another real hurdle is determining how to elicit change at the micro or company level. For us at T5, the micro level started with a need and a desire to interact and respond to what our customers are requiring. We determined early on that you can’t improve what you can’t measure, and the first step was to understand exactly where we are, benchmark the data and then make decisions to make an impact moving forward. Industry collaboration was the next step to tackling a global problem by breaking it down into tangible, actionable pieces.
- 4. Going Green’ has ecological AND economic benefits: The benefits of laser-focused efforts to become part of the solution are two-fold: ecological and economic. The two go hand in hand, we should not have to trade one for the other in theory or in practice. Money is being invested in companies that focus on ESG and this trend will only continue. At T5 and through our collaboration with like-minded companies like nZero and others in the iMasons Climate Accord, one thing has become clear: while we may compete in business, we don’t have to compete on saving the planet. We all have to work together. All the decisions need to have a sustainability element embedded in and decisions made based on established criteria. All in all, it just makes good business sense.
- 5. Start with Data: Having meaningful data drives insights and is also a customer value-add. Data drives decisions on how facilities are built, and managed, how we provide services our customers need and continues throughout our procurement and operations process – the entire lifecycle. Sustainability used to be an afterthought but now it’s at the forefront and data is everywhere throughout the supply chain. But how do you use the data you compile to drive outcomes? It begins with measuring, compiling, leading by example, and then telling the story transparently.
Stay tuned for Part 2 in this Blog Series: Getting to Carbon Zero & The iMasons Climate Accord – Coming Soon!
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