Published on October 29, 2023, 9:50 pm

Data centers, including those operated by Meta, play a crucial role in connecting people globally. However, with the rising prominence of environmental concerns and ESG goals, data center operators must prioritize energy efficiency and sustainability. Achieving optimal power usage effectiveness (PUE) and incorporating efficient operational practices are key to improving profitability and reducing carbon footprint. Balancing compute resource demands with sustainable operations can be challenging initially but becomes more attainable as data centers scale up. Factors such as power efficiency, carbon footprint, and overall ESG alignment should be considered when evaluating data center requirements. By prioritizing sustainability in data centers, businesses can reduce their carbon footprint while maintaining reliable digital infrastructure for their operations.

Back in February 2012, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook (now Meta), expressed the importance of connecting everyone in the world and transforming society for the future. As a major player in connecting people through its social media platforms, Meta has invested over $20 billion in data centers worldwide. Although Meta’s data center in Singapore is just one out of 8,271 globally, these data centers are essential for facilitating the digital economy and connecting communities.

However, as environmental concerns gain prominence and businesses focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, data center operators must address energy efficiency and sustainability. Data centers are known to be energy-intensive enterprises, accounting for approximately 1% of global electricity consumption.

In Europe, the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pack aims to make data centers climate-neutral by 2030. As climate change impacts various parts of Asia, it raises the question of whether data centers in the region can band together to commit to similar sustainability goals.

Samuel Lee, CEO of Digital Edge, emphasizes that being carbon-neutral is not only a responsible move but also a financially beneficial one for data center operators. Enhancing power usage effectiveness (PUE) improves operational efficiency and allows businesses to improve their profit margins.

Lee highlights that achieving optimal PUE involves more than just incorporating new technologies and designs; it also requires efficient operational practices such as water utilization for cooling. Balancing compute resource demands with sustainable operations can be challenging for small data centers initially but becomes more attainable as they scale up.

Lee acknowledges that trade-offs may be necessary depending on regional conditions. For instance, countries with high temperatures and humidity like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore might need to employ innovative technologies and techniques to achieve energy efficiency despite the challenging climate.

When CIOs and heads of infrastructure plan their IT needs and consider outsourcing options such as data centers, Lee advises looking beyond immediate requirements. Considering factors like power efficiency and carbon footprint is crucial in the evolving landscape of ESG considerations.

Lee suggests being prepared for different carbon output measurement formulas used by various countries and aiming for a cushioning PUE of around 1.3 to 1.5. The goal is to offer efficient data centers that meet both present and future needs, ensuring long-term benefits for customers and aligning with ESG requirements.

As businesses consume more data, they expect data center operators to be more responsive to ESG concerns. Data center operators are working on solutions to address this paradox by improving energy efficiency, adopting sustainable practices, and investing in renewable energy sources.

Data centers in cities like Hong Kong and Singapore must evolve to meet customer expectations regarding sustainability. This involves deploying technologies and infrastructure that are not only resilient but also support ESG goals.

When evaluating data center requirements, CIOs should consider factors such as power efficiency, carbon footprint, and overall ESG alignment. Collaborating with data center operators who prioritize these considerations ensures the deployment of future-proof infrastructure that supports companies’ sustainable goals.

In summary, the growing emphasis on ESG necessitates sustainable practices in the operation of data centers. Data center operators must focus on improving energy efficiency while meeting the increasing demand for compute resources. CIOs and heads of infrastructure can play a significant role by choosing data centers that prioritize environmental sustainability and align with their company’s ESG objectives. By embracing sustainability in data centers, businesses can reduce their carbon footprint while maintaining reliable digital infrastructure for their operations.

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