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Technology is Shaping Sustainability, Advancing Productivity and Efficiency

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Our planet's future is important to all of us so contributing to sustainability has become a universal goal across all businesses and sectors.

“Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword, but an environmental, economic and social driver that’s changing our day-to-day lives in almost every way imaginable,” wrote Mark Schwartz in Forbes. “This is obvious throughout the business community, in which committing to sustainable practices is no longer a “nice to have” but a “must do” as the negative impacts of climate change become more obvious and ominous, with the potential to alter everything from supply chains to profitability.”

When it comes to creating a positive impact, technology can not only shape sustainability but also advance productivity and efficiency.

“Sustainability requires transformation, and most organizations are discovering how to consolidate new technologies and new measures to proceed with their social-ecological development and framework,” says Devoteam. “There’s a rise of new green tech products and effective pathways that don’t compromise the health of the ecosystems.”

Technology, when used with foresight, can help businesses reduce their environmental footprint while advancing practices such as increasing product life cycles and relying less on hazardous materials.

“Although the solution to this global problem is complex, multifaceted and will unfold for generations to come, what’s certain is that technology will play a pivotal role,” writes Schwartz. “Although it’s not a panacea, technology has the power to increase productivity, efficiency and cost savings, reduce product waste, chemicals and resources and measure, analyze and track progress, all of which can help minimize the impact on the environment.”

Cloud Computing Can Reduce Carbon Footprints

Data Centers play a vital role in a sustainable future with the move towards cloud computing helping reduce carbon footprints across the globe.

“Choosing cloud over on-premises deployment can help reduce carbon emissions,” says Devoteam. “The ability to scale technology, to share resources, the elimination of physical assets, in sum the reduction of the total cost of ownership of IT and enabling new solutions for smart grids, buildings, optimized logistics, and dematerialization, have an impact on global carbon emissions.”

Creating more sustainable buildings and infrastructure is key because the World Green Building Council estimates that buildings account for 39 percent of global carbon emissions.

Most of those emissions come after the building is complete, with heating, cooling, and lighting eating up more than two-thirds of that 39 percent figure.

By moving data to cloud services, businesses are helping make their buildings more sustainable.

Amazon, for example, says that a 451 Research study showed that AWS’s infrastructure was 3.6 times more energy efficient than the median U.S. enterprise data center surveyed.

The energy efficiency came from:

  • Two-thirds was due to a more energy efficient server population and higher server utilization
  • Research showed that most enterprises only achieved 18 percent server utilization, leaving a significant amount of capacity unused
  • Cloud providers were also more likely to have access to the latest server technology and to have adopted newer energy-efficient server platforms

“Companies want to be seen as responsible corporate citizens, and many have made sustainability commitments and achieved progress in multiple areas of their operations. Yet even with an emphasis on sustainability, running data centers and IT is not a core competency of most enterprises and they lack the resources to make major, comprehensive investments in infrastructure efficiency,” Daniel Bizo, Principal Analyst for Datacenter Services & Infrastructure at 451 Research said.

Data Centers Can Go Beyond Compliance with Clean Energy

For those operating data centers, compliance is important, but there are times, argues Allan Schurr of Enchanted Rock, that companies must go beyond compliance to ensure a sustainable future.

“While exceeding compliance may be possible, it can cost more to do so. Sometimes, however, going beyond compliance is both the responsible thing to do and can save money. For data center operators that have made commitments to social responsibility or sustainability and carbon reductions, such an option exists right now,” wrote Schurr in Data Center Frontier.

Schurr’s company offers data centers a sustainable solution for backup powers, swapping clean microgrids that run on natural gas for existing diesel generators used when the power grid goes out.

“This equipment has not changed much in the last 20 years. Large diesel reciprocating engine gensets start quickly and handle the rigorous technical needs of a data center,” writes Schurr. “But the local pollution levels allowed by the most common Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier2 and more stringent Tier4 generator regulations are so high that the generator is only allowed to run during emergencies and for very limited testing and non-emergency hours. EPA studies have shown that these local emissions are the cause of higher rates of asthma and other lung ailments.”

Enchanted Rock’s microgrids claim to not only reduce local emissions by between 20 and 1,000 times but can also generate revenue by offering power back to the grid, thus generating net revenue ranging from $50,00 to $150,000 per MW-year.

The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Some companies are seriously committing to the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership,” says the UN.

Technology plays a big role in meeting these 17 Sustainable Development Goals with big tech companies such as Microsoft pledging to be carbon negative, water positive and zero waste by 2030, and pledging to remove all the carbon that the company has emitted since its founding in 1975 by 2050.

“There are a wide variety of innovative solutions being brought forth by companies across the globe that are committed to ensuring that our planet can thrive for generations to come,” concludes Schwartz.

At Data Center Systems, we are committed to conducting our business with unquestionable honesty, integrity, and professionalism, and in compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations. For more information about how DCS has prioritized Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, please click here.

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