A new white paper from Schneider Electric proposes five categories of data center sustainability metrics that can be used to report on environmental sustainability.
A growing number of companies are reporting on their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs each year. According to Schneider Electric, there’s a need for standardized sustainability metrics, especially in the data center industry. Without them, it’s challenging to benchmark against competitors. According to the paper, “without appropriate metrics for benchmarking, it’s difficult to know where to improve, what to prioritize, and how to show progress year over year.” It’s also difficult to ensure internal alignment between design, procurement, operations, and sustainability teams.
In the paper, Schneider proposed five categories of sustainability metrics that every data center operator should measure. These categories are energy consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water usage, waste, and land & biodiversity. The authors note that “Making progress on environmental sustainability goals as an industry means adopting standardized metrics for measurement.”
The on-going rapid growth and projected future growth of data centers make energy consumption and efficiency an important focus in a data center’s sustainability journey. In addition to reducing consumption through efficient operations, the use of renewable energy helps reduce the greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions represented in electricity consumption. – Schneider Electric, “Guide to Environmental Sustainability Metrics for Data Centers“
Within these five categories, the authors explain 23 different measurable metrics such as renewable energy factor (REF), carbon usage effectiveness, total water use in supply chain, total waste generated. Another metric outlined is mean species abundance, which “measures a data center’s impact on biodiversity.” In addition defining each of the metrics, the paper outlines applications “to measure the progress.”
The paper also provides a table that compares “17 most relevant sustainability frameworks and standards for data centers around the world.” Operators can use this “to standardize their environmental sustainability reporting.” The authors also suggest a pathway for mapping the 23 proposed metrics to the sustainability frameworks.