Posted: 4th May 2022
More than 70 leading digital infrastructure companies have signed the iMasons Climate Accord, a pledge that brings the industry together to accelerate carbon reduction.
A decade ago data centres were an obscure and relatively small industry most people were unaware of never mind understood.
Back then, KPIs centred around physical security, info security, temperature, and so on. Sustainability didn’t even enter the picture. So It’s impressive to see how far the industry has progressed in such a short period.
Fast forward ten years and the industry has exploded. Data centres are now essential to the continued functioning of the world. They enable economies to stay productive and prosperous.
Alongside the industry’s rapid growth emerged an understanding that they had an environmental responsibility.
Despite being characterised by some media outlets as wreckless consumers of power, the data centre industry has done a great deal to drive down power consumption.
Compute capacity has increased by over 500% while total energy consumption has risen minimally. Data centres are one of the largest consumers of clean energy globally. And companies all over the world are coming up with innovative new ways to solve energy consumption problems (low water or zero water base cooling platforms, for example).
In many ways, the industry serves as a great example for everyone in the construction space, digital or physical. They take environmental problems seriously and do what they can to solve them.
However, right now the planet is heading towards a climate catastrophe and the world is on a mission to limit the planet’s warming to 1.5 degrees by the year 2100. As a result, many countries have set net-zero targets for 2050, and even the data centre industry has realised it must do better faster.
The iMasons Climate Accord
On 25 April, iMasons announced its Climate Accord, a historic cooperative which unites leading digital infrastructure companies on carbon reduction. The pledge has been signed by over 70 organisations including Meta (formerly Facebook), Google, Microsoft and AWS.
The pledge recognises that, as large consumers of power and materials, the digital infrastructure industry must take a proactive role in achieving net-zero. It also acknowledges that the industry is behind where it needs to be and that collaboration between organisations is key to accelerating its progress.
Hyperscale companies shape the industry’s behaviour, so the accord’s sentiments will no doubt permeate into the rest of the data centre space rapidly.
A common carbon accounting methodology
At the heart of the accord is the need for a common carbon measurement methodology. The stated goal is to identify and establish an independent governing body to develop a standard methodology for measuring carbon emissions in data centre power, materials, and products.
It’s a noble aim. Currently, the industry relies on guesstimates or retrospective calculations which usually lead to overpayments. Plus, a common accounting methodology would enable businesses to leverage data to continuously reduce carbon at the design and operation stage.
Such a methodology needs to be accurate, auditable and scalable; it must work for data centres of every size, at speed, and in such a way that it can be audited by an independent body.
How long will it take for such a methodology to be established? Who knows, but with such talented, creative and driven organisations working together, one would imagine a solution will soon be upon us.
What is clear, however, is that they should be applauded for making the brave decision to unite for the greater good. It’s these kinds of decisions that make the battle against climate change one we can win.
Talk to us about your data centre project
Blacktip Consultancy is currently helping some of the world’s leading data centre organisations get their digital infrastructure right. We have extensive experience and expertise in the space which means no project is too intimidating for us. So, if you want to talk to us about your project we want to hear from you.
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