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Schneider Electric: Empowers data centers with standardized and transparent ESG metrics

  • Categorize:Industry Information
  • Author:Mark Garner, Vice President, Critical Power Business, Schneider Electric (UK & Ireland)
  • Source:China Industrial control network
  • Release time:2023-04-06
  • pageviews:0


Schneider Electric: Empowers data centers with standardized and transparent ESG metrics


  • Categorize:Industry Information
  • Author:Mark Garner, Vice President, Critical Power Business, Schneider Electric (UK & Ireland)
  • Source:China Industrial control network
  • Release time:2023-04-06
  • pageviews:0

Under the goal of "double carbon", the green economy has ushered in vigorous development, and sustainable development has become the inevitable mission of enterprises. From the 2023 "Government Work Report" pointed out that "strengthen ecological environmental protection, promote green and low-carbon development" to the recent establishment of the ESG special work agency of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, under the dual drive of policy and market, environment, society and governance (ESG) is undoubtedly receiving attention and attention from all parties. For enterprises, the active practice of ESG concept will further enhance the ability of sustainable development and promote the high-quality development of enterprises.


ESG and Data center Sustainability

Today, with the increasing prosperity of the digital economy, data centers and digital infrastructure are growing exponentially, and their energy consumption and environmental impact are also gradually climbing. A series of policies and regulations, customer and investor demand, and a growing recognition that sustainability is closely linked to the growth expectations of enterprises are driving data centers towards sustainability, and there is an urgent need for data center stakeholders to plan ahead and think about low-carbon and sustainable development issues. In a recent survey of more than 800 global hosting companies conducted by Schneider Electric and 451 Research, 97% of respondents said their customers demand sustainability commitments in their business partnerships.

Recent survey results show that while most companies and organizations have increased their focus on ESG reporting, practice is lagging behind. At the same time, the Uptime Institute survey found that most organizations are not paying close attention to their ecological footprint. To better support data center operators and empower the industry to meet its own sustainability goals, Schneider Electric has created the first indicator framework for measuring environmental sustainability in data centers.

The framework includes five key elements of energy, water, greenhouse gas emissions, waste, land and biodiversity, and is refined into 23 key indicators under different sustainability frameworks for data center operators at different stages of sustainable development, such as primary, advanced and industry-leading. This enables the industry to measure and report the environmental impact of data centers in a standardized way.

Key indicator

Energy, as the largest component of data center operating costs, is the primary category that needs to be monitored and measured, and the output of fossil fuels and renewable energy is geographically affected and its price is volatile. Therefore, maximizing energy efficiency has important business and long-term environmental implications.

Second, greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon emissions caused by CO2 (carbon dioxide), CH4 (methane), PFC (perfluorinated) and HFCS (hydrofluorocarbons) are major contributors to climate change and actions and efforts should be undertaken in all areas of business to reduce such emissions. For example, SF6, a greenhouse gas widely found in medium-voltage switchgear, is 23,000 times more potent than the equivalent amount of CO2. Therefore, Schneider Electric has developed and launched sulfur hexafluoride free products to effectively solve the above problems.

Water use is also a major focus, with a 15MW data center consuming up to 360,000 gallons (1,363 tons) of water per day. Cooling towers and other evaporative cooling technologies are popular in the cooling field because of their high efficiency and powerful cooling capacity, but evaporative cooling also requires a large amount of water consumption. Typically, a 1MW data center using traditional evaporative cooling will consume 25 million liters of water per year.

In addition, data centers inevitably generate a variety of waste during the construction and operation phase, often containing hazardous materials that must be properly disposed of. Circular economy design methodologies, Green Premium™ technology and better processes can improve data center sustainability, as can end-of-life product recycling such as uninterruptible power supply (UPS) batteries. Potential damage to land and biodiversity in the data center construction phase must be kept to a minimum, especially with higher requirements for projects and developers. Sustainability is not only about the data center facilities themselves, but also the supporting renewable energy infrastructure such as solar panels and wind turbines.

When one of these indicators is chosen, the results that drive significant improvements in sustainability should be practical and as applicable as possible in all regions.

Energy consumption index

For example, the premise for dealing with energy-related matters is that data center operators measure their facilities' total energy consumption, PUE and share of renewable energy use. Renewable energy can be obtained locally, by purchasing renewable energy quotas from energy companies, or by signing long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs).

According to the measurement results, the REF renewable energy coefficient can be calculated, which reflects the proportion of renewable energy in all energy consumption of a site. A REF of 1 means that the entire data center is using renewable energy. Another key indicator is the energy reuse factor (ERF), which is defined in standard ISO/IEC 30134-6. Based on the combination of indicators, data center operators can be incentivized to improve overall energy efficiency, increase the use of renewable energy, and promote the development of a circular economy through initiatives such as waste heat recovery.

Greenhouse gas index

On a global scale, it is important to control carbon emissions. Many internationally agreed agreements contain complex calculations, including carbon emissions from multiple sources, which form the basis for calculating other indicators such as carbon intensity and carbon use efficiency (CUE). Related to IT load, CUE can enable data centers or other industries to compare carbon emissions in such a way that it can be useful in site selection, planning and design, and operations to measure the effects of continuous improvement.

Carbon offsets and carbon credits can be purchased by enterprises to offset the carbon emissions generated, thus encouraging enterprises to achieve carbon reduction from more dimensions. In addition, the match between supply and consumption per hour will be used as a measure of the operator's renewable energy generation and consumption.

Waste, water, land and biodiversity

Regarding waste, key metrics include the total weight of waste generated from the data center from construction to operation; The total weight of waste sent to landfills; The weight of waste diverted from landfills through the circular economy (including reuse, manufacturing and recycling); The waste conversion ratio is the ratio of the weight of recycled waste to the total weight of the waste produced. The metrics create parameters that can be used to compare across data centers and to measure improvements in waste reduction.

Measuring site water consumption is another key metric that needs to be included, which should cover all water consumption such as fresh water and reclaimed water for the operation of the facility. Total Energy Water usage measures water used in the data center during energy use and can be used to optimize water consumption related to energy use. For example, water consumption caused by the use of evaporative refrigeration equipment increases the total water consumption of data center facilities, but reduces the energy use of refrigeration systems. This not only reduces the amount of water used by power plants, but also provides a holistic perspective to better manage all water consumption associated with operations.

In addition, although it is widely accepted that land development for data centers should not affect the biodiversity of animal habitats, plants and microorganisms, this indicator is still in its infancy and has not yet been standardized, and it is hoped that this will change in the future.

Define the development path with clear measurement indicators

For businesses aiming to collect and audit sustainability metrics, there are a number of ways to effectively improve data center sustainability. The most obvious way is to set goals: To improve the sustainability performance of the data center or the entire organization, this can be achieved by meeting a challenging PUE, CUE, or WUE target or by reducing the amount of waste generated over a specific period of time. Metrics need to ensure that companies report accurately and report progress towards sustainability in a transparent and quantifiable way, making it possible to certify their efforts against accepted standards.

As the demands on the industry continue to increase and the elasticity of those demands increases, data operators must consider how their business decisions impact the environment and prioritize standardized, sustainable implementation methods across their organizations. In order to promote the sustainable development of the data center industry, Schneider Electric took the lead in proposing this set of environmental sustainability indicator framework, which aims to help the industry quantify sustainable development from a qualitative concept to a detailed index, so that operators and the industry can judge the sustainability process at different stages in a comprehensive, quantitative and standardized way. This will enable data center operators to quantify the effectiveness of their own sustainability initiatives and continuously adjust their data center operations strategies.

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