Data centers are at the heart of connections. They power the internet and make digital communication possible. Data centers also account for the highest percentage of our energy use, water use and GHG emissions.
We can have the largest impact on overall emissions reductions by designing, building and operating some of the most sustainable data centers in the world. Data center buildings we completed in 2021 exhibit a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.09 and Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) of 0.26.
For The Earth
Efficiency and renewable energy are key components of our approach to designing, building and operating sustainable data centers. We have 28 certified LEED Gold data centers totaling nearly 17 million square feet, six of which earned the designation in 2021.
Each site is designed to promote biodiversity, plant native and adaptive landscape, mimic the natural hydrology of the site and reduce urban heat island effect. We choose plant species, efficient irrigation, alternative water sources when available, Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified new wood products and smart scheduling technologies that together save more than 80,000 kilogallons of water per year.
For Our People
With each data center building completed in 2021, we incorporated elements to improve sustainability, inclusiveness and comfort:
- Reduced indoor air contaminants to improve occupant comfort, lower absenteeism and increase productivity
- Improved interior acoustics for better privacy and concentration, and improved lighting for better visibility
- Followed LEED guidelines to increase fresh air by 30% to improve cognition
- Maximized natural light and provided views to outdoor landscaping
Optimizing Humidity for Efficient Water Use
In 2021, we identified winter humidification as an opportunity to improve operating efficiency by optimizing our relative humidity (RH). We piloted the RH adjustment at our data center in Los Lunas, New Mexico and found by lowering our current 20% minimum RH to 13% minimum RH, we were able to reduce water use by 40% over nine months.
We expect implementing this change across existing data centers and new construction will reduce water use 10% to 65% annually.
Data Center Water Efficiency
Because data centers rely on water to cool servers and maintain humidity levels, our teams are always looking for ways to reduce our water use. One method we use to conserve water is through direct evaporative cooling, which relies on outside air.
Traditional technologies, like chilled water plants and cooling towers, rely on water to reject heat. In areas facing specific environmental challenges, such as high levels of dust, extreme humidity or elevated salinity, using direct cooling could severely impact IT equipment.
In these cases, we use indirect cooling systems to minimize the risk to our buildings and the servers housed within. In partnership with Nortek Air Solutions, we have developed an indirect cooling technology called the StatePoint Liquid Cooling (SPLC) system. The first of its kind to be deployed to data centers, the system uses less water than a typical indirect cooling system because it uses air to cool water instead of using water to cool air.
Sustainability Impact Map
We are committed to creating a positive impact on the communities where we operate. That is why all of our renewable energy projects are interconnected to the same electric grid as our facilities. This map highlights our renewable energy procurement and deployment efforts worldwide, water stewardship efforts in the communities we operate in, as well as sustainability features across our global portfolio of data centers.
2021 Sustainability Report
We envision a just and equitable transition to a zero-carbon economy, and are working to scale inclusive solutions that help create a healthier planet for all.