Within the data center industry, the word sustainability has become the new energy efficiency in terms of how often it is used in new marketing material. Together with the hyperscalers, the data center industry is making increasing commitments toward reaching net-zero. Microsoft, for instance, has committed to going carbon-negative, while Equinix has committed to becoming climate-neutral across their global operations by 2030, and CyrusOne committed to reducing not only carbon, but also water consumption. However, a shared understanding of what sustainability means for data centers is still lacking. With the launch of our Roadmap last year we offered the first comprehensive sector-wide plan for digital infrastructure to become truly sustainable, considering not only the environmental impact and resource consumption, but also economic viability and societal effects.
More and more companies, such as Rolls-Royce, Vertiv, Legrand, Triple Point, and Bureau Veritas, along with researchers and governments are joining us to collaborate on the Roadmap, together with suppliers, partners, and customers. With six active Steering Groups overseeing the creation of a digital carbon footprint, new solutions to backup power generation, green power procurement, renewable power integration, and developing the business case for heat recovery, there is momentum from more than 65 members and partners and our SDIA team of 15 people (and growing) to make progress toward a sustainable future.
The SDIA Open Data Hub delivers transparency & the data needed to make and measure progress
In July, we announced our Open Data Hub, which will provide a place for actors from across the digital infrastructure sector to report on our Roadmap metrics, create transparency, and enable the Alliance to measure actual progress on the Roadmap toward sustainable digital infrastructure. Beyond those metrics, the Open Data Hub will eventually be a home for supplier information, such as lifecycle data, product passports, as well as research data and results. In short, it will serve as the central data hub for the sector to reach its sustainability targets, be it on the supply chain or in operations.
Regional cloud hubs enable local digital ecosystems to succeed at creating inclusive prosperity
This summer, we also published a three-part series introducing our manifesto for a sustainable European cloud. The SDIA is executing its long-held belief that cloud infrastructure needs to be rethought to fit the paradigms of sustainability. By developing local digital ecosystems, in which existing infrastructure and IT actors can come together to develop regional cloud infrastructure and services, the economic value is captured by the surrounding community and the infrastructure itself can be better integrated into the environment, leading to better environmental performance. To facilitate the deployment of such regional cloud hubs, the Alliance is developing an open-source blueprint containing both technical and business components for any region to deploy their own cloud infrastructure. The SDIA is partnering with key cities and regions to support the roll out and develop the blueprint further through pilots.
Governments are finding their role in supporting a sustainable digital economy
Governments are increasingly recognizing the need to develop measures for more transparency and a better understanding of the energy and resource use of the digital ecosystem. The new proposal on the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive suggests more transparency around data center sustainability indicators, and the first indications of support for retrofitting legacy infrastructure to become carbon-neutral are manifesting. The German Government has recently awarded SDIA with a two-year project on developing a framework for labeling the energy-efficiency of software. This comes in addition to the existing projects, ECO-Qube, a more dynamic approach to data center cooling that is linked to IT utilization, and CEDaCI, which is building a database and model for IT hardware lifecycle data (the latter resulting from the merger of SDIA and Green IT Amsterdam, was announced at the beginning of 2021). These projects are joined by leading researchers from across Europe, which the SDIA coordinates and ensures that the results are applicable to the digital infrastructure sector at large.
Sustainability and a clear plan for industries is sought after in the public sphere with SDIA at the center of the new movement
With an increased focus on sustainability, SDIA is also increasingly visible across the digital infrastructure sector, with an upcoming keynote at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Future Symposium in San Jose, California, in November, co-hosting the first physical event in Frankfurt, with the German Data Center Association, judging the prestigious Eco & DCD Awards, as well as speaking at panels with the EU Greens/EFA party and The Commonwealth on sustainable digital infrastructure.
An independent platform to advance the sustainability agenda of the digital sector
Increasingly, SDIA is becoming the catalyst, an independent platform that brings together all actors from across digital infrastructure and enables collaboration across a shared roadmap and goals. The members of the Alliance are committed to this roadmap, and pursue sustainability strategies aligned with it. As the Alliance does not represent a single industry, but is rather representing its Roadmap sustainability goals, it is possible for anyone working across the entire digital economic value chain to join and find their own business case in sustainability through collaboration with more than 30+ industries.