An Industry Roadmap for Getting to Carbon Neutral and Net Zero
In a recent JSA Virtual Roundtable: Getting to Carbon 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 2 of this blog series, we highlight some key takeaways the participants identified along the path to carbon reduction:
As data centers continue to expand and grow exponentially, so does power consumption and the industry’s collective contribution to massive carbon outputs. The iMasons Climate Accord started with 40 leaders who decided to start with one thing that they could all agree upon; the only way to affect meaningful change is to work together as an industry. All participating companies had common carbon reduction goals, but collectively, they began to brainstorm on how they could create an industry standard, a baseline and a reliable way to measure their carbon footprints. The Accord now has 172 companies from across the spectrum of digital infrastructure, all uniting behind creating a standardized methodology.
“Clearly, this is not an easy fix or even a quick solution. There are big questions to address but also huge opportunities that encourage us to take a step back and think about the context of the digital infrastructure industry,” says McKesson. “With over 7 million data centers globally and well over 100K MW of capacity and growing exponentially, plus the fact that the industry is also entering more emerging markets – everything is massively growing at scale. Now, as data centers have moved from 5MW enterprise facilities to 40+MW sites on Gigawatt hyperscale campuses, the challenge becomes even greater as power consumption levels keep getting bigger and bigger.”
So how does the digital infrastructure industry as an ecosystem strategically align on sustainability efforts and leverage continuity to drive change? What are the specific tools and measurements that leaders in this space are looking at for meaningful and sustained progress? Here are some of the critical collaborative efforts that are well underway within the iMasons Climate Accord and were discussed in the roundtable:
- Creation and adoption of an open standard to report carbon in data center materials and products. EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) help in determining and reporting carbon footprints. Some suppliers already have EPDs, but leveraging that data and choosing sustainable partners throughout the supply chain will ultimately lead to more robust carbon labels for materials and products.
- Measuring carbon intensity in power consumption is an important baseline data point. T5 is partnering with companies like nZero to track carbon emissions in real time so that we can identify gaps and opportunities for increased efficiencies.
- Power Capacity Effectiveness (PCE) measures how much each location has built and how much they use. Understanding this means digital infrastructure companies can drive utilization where they can and do so in the most sustainable way.
- Development of a maturity model to report progress with the goal of global carbon accounting for each unique data center location over its lifetime. Imagine the power of collecting and analyzing profiles of data center locations around the world that track embodied carbon per location and the carbon intensity of the energy that is feeding each data center as it’s consuming it. Without a standard model, every organization will be at different phases and places in the process.
- Identification of gaps and opportunities in the supply chain means being the voice of the industry and of the customer to elevate partnerships towards a common goal.
In the end, as an industry, we are setting the standards for sustainable practices. We are driving product innovations and fostering ecological and economical benefits. And we are just getting started.