In this edition of Voices of the Industry, TJ Faze, Head of ESG Strategy and Engagement at Vertiv, outlines the company’s learnings around its recent ESG efforts.
We have arrived at pivotal time in history. The growing need for more connectivity and increased digitization to support remote work, online schooling, telehealth, and other essential services have made a strong case for data centers quickly becoming just as important as the other utilities we depend on for our society to function every day. While the proliferation of data centers and other critical infrastructure spells excitement for companies like Vertiv and our customers, this growth must be met with caution, consideration, and a heightened sense of responsibility regarding how this growth will affect our planet and our people.
The product of these elevated discussions and actions were captured in Vertiv’s inaugural environmental, social and governance (ESG) report. In the two years since Vertiv went public, we’ve worked to develop a strategy for managing ESG and to do so in a way that reflects our reputation of providing long-term value and leadership to our employees, partners, and customers. This report is a step toward our goal of promoting positive change and mitigating potential harm to the company and world at large. The report touches on our baseline efforts for a number of ESG-related topics, including the environment, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), employee health and safety, and community outreach. Below are some of the highlights of what we’ve learned so far.
Striving for Stronger Accountability from the Top Down
Vertiv recognized that effective ESG management and oversight across the entire company starts at the top. Therefore, Vertiv established its ESG Executive Steering Committee, made up of senior leaders from across the organization, to drive company-wide evaluation of ESG efforts and guide the evolution of its ESG strategy, programs, and policies. The ESG Executive Steering committee meets quarterly, and the leader of the committee engages with Vertiv’s Board to share the latest ESG progress and updates, including:
- Gathering and evaluating our scope of 1 and 2 greenhouse gas inventory*
- Establishing internal plans to reduce our energy and waste footprint.
- Implementing product safety systems and training resources.
- Advancing DE&I.
- Publishing our Anti-Human Trafficking Statement and Policy.
- Hosting trainings on human rights compliance.
* Scope 1 & 2 greenhouse gas inventory is based on the GHG Protocol methodology, self-reported data by large facilities (>50,000 sq ft or >100 employees per site) and estimated for small facilities. This data is not reported as we refine our data collection methods, and seek third party verification or audit in future reporting years.
Building with a Future-First Mindset
The industry has made a concerted effort to overcome environmental obstacles and improve operations to put more high-performing solutions into the world that help contribute to organizations’ efficiency and sustainability goals. The following principles serve as a roadmap to this end:
- High efficiency: Design energy- and water-efficient solutions for the market.
- High reliability: Build resilient and highly serviceable equipment that’s durable and long lasting.
- Low impact: Strive to understand and limit manufacturing processes that may have adverse environmental impacts, and measure and increase use of recycled materials in our products and product packaging.
- Low touch: Enable remote troubleshooting, optimization services, and more connected systems to improve and reduce environmental impact of maintenance practices.
- Circular economy: Reuse, refurbish, or recycle end-of-life equipment and materials.
In recent years, Vertiv has made important inroads by introducing new and upgraded products with high energy- and water-efficiency attributes, including offering energy-efficient power solutions that consume less energy than older models. For example, a customer who upgraded to our Liebert EXL S1 with Dynamic Online Mode increased UPS efficiency by 5%, reducing energy loss by nearly 75%. Across our portfolio, we offer ENERGY STAR-qualified UPS systems in eight product lines, covering more than 70 models. Additionally, Vertiv’s Liebert DSE Free-Cooling Economization System saves up to 4.0 million gallons of water per year, per unit, compared to previous models.
Equally important is constantly engaging in discussions with other industry experts on the topic of data center efficiency and emissions. One recent example is Vertiv’s partnership with the EcoEdge PrimePower Project, which aims to develop and demonstrate low environmental impact fuel cells that provide economical and resilient prime power solutions for the data center environment. Vertiv also collaborates with the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance, the European Data Centre Association, and the RISE Partnership Program.
Fostering a Safer, Healthier Workplace
No matter if our team is on the production floor or interacting with our products in the field, Vertiv is doing everything in its power to prioritize health and safety in the workplace. The ESG report outlines how Vertiv monitors the health and safety of its global workforce and how its effective employee health and safety (EHS) strategy has helped the company achieve a more than 10% year-over-year reduction in recordable injuries based on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s total reportable injury rate (TRIR).
Diversifying Our Point of View for a Stronger Voice
The report recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organization and making progress in changing this landscape. Vertiv has introduced training opportunities to support the organization’s global focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion and educate employees on things like how unconscious bias may play a role in decision making. While the industry has made significant progress in developing and elevating women across roles and organizational levels, women are still widely underrepresented in the data center ecosystem, particularly in industries focused on science, technology, engineering, and math. To help close this gap, it is important for Vertiv and other industry leaders to encourage their leaders and hiring managers to understand their own blind spots and learn the strategies to help create more inclusive hiring and promotional practices.
This report is just the start, and the real test will be putting in the continuous work and constant evaluation to improve Vertiv’s ESG efforts. However, it is an important and necessary start in raising the bar for our organization’s accountability and responsibility to our stakeholders. To read the full ESG report, click here.