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Data Center Sustainability: Achieving a Carbon Neutral Environment Through Data Center Operations

Our industry, as you know, is growing, and with it, the collective rise in its energy consumption and resulting carbon footprint. Data centers consume an estimated 200 terawatt hours (TWh) each year, about .3% of overall carbon emissions. With the rising demand for data, now and in the future, it is unquestionable what the carbon footprint trend will look like in 5-10 years if we do not act today. Sustainability is an issue the industry is starting to grapple with. With several in our industry focusing on Scope 1 & 2 emissions, Salute is working to address sustainability with its data center operations strategy and begin to tackle Scope 3.

Driving Efficiency Through Operations

As consumption is the driver of emissions, Salute’s efficient delivery model that uses fewer people, optimizes processes and with fully integrated technology can be a key solution to the increasing problem. At Salute, it is our social responsibility to help data centers efficiently transition to more sustainable practices. For the sustainability of the Earth but also their budgets. Optimizing operations delivery models can reduce your operating expense, minimize risk and help reduce the world’s carbon footprint.

Data Center Sustainability: Our Duty on the Front Lines of Data Center Operations

Two of the most significant issues discussed in the industry are talent shortage and resource consumption. Salute has a proven model of workforce development that solves the talent shortage and a proven approach of sustainable operations that addresses the resource consumption problem as a services company. To move from a reactive mode of operating a data center to a proactive mode, you need to adopt a holistic approach to sustainable operations. As equipment manufacturers and data center designers deliver ever more efficient platforms. The key to lowering the industry’s carbon footprint is operating the data center for decades after they are built in the most efficient manner possible while rapidly changing and growing to meet market demand. This takes precision in systems, processes and people to reduce consumption.

Salute defines sustainable operations as a fully integrated approach that reaps the benefit of the capital investment. Salute is built on values, one of which is our commitment to our workers, customers, and communities. To be true to these values, Salute believes in continuous vigilance in pursuit of the UN 17 goals for sustainable development. Salute pledges to work proactively and on behest of its workforce and clients to identify best practices in this global imperative. The advantage of this model has an enormous commercial impact through enhanced cost savings and a societal impact through reduced energy consumption. In sustainable operations, we focus on resource optimization and integrated solutions to achieve maximum outcomes.

Sustainable operations must be driven from the top with feedback loops at every level. Given the variables such as use type, location, regulations, etc. there is no single blueprint that can be applied but a framework can drive optimal results by site so that in aggregate you can fulfill your responsibilities to stakeholders and the communities.

Top Down Bottom Up Commitment

Sustainable operations require a culture shift in an organization to be most effective, which is why top-down planning is critical. With the right culture, processes, and tools, an organization can be flexible and armed with tools and processes that will enable confidence and effective changes. Continuous measuring, monitoring, analyzing and acting are required to be truly sustainable.

The key to success for sustainable operations is to define the partnership responsibilities between the various stakeholders. The Salute Responsibilities Framework, below, is the starting point in discussion with clients to establish understanding and implement a program that will drive positive outcomes.

Three Tiers of Sustainable Data Center Operations

  • Company Responsibility – Salute is committed to controlling our actions. Change starts at home, and we believe it starts with embracing and expanding on the following:
    • Work from home opportunities/ reduction of travel
    • Diversity as a strength
    • Retention in company and in industry
    • Furthering sustainability as a core part of our values/culture
    • Leveraging sustainable goods/ PPE
  • Service Delivery Provider Responsibility – Salute will continue to drive optimization, flexibility, training and best practices to increase the value add of the services we provide:
    • Helping clients see their sustainability blind spots, audits, etc.
    • Being good stewards with resources, no waste, proper recycling
    • Proactively building solutions that drive sustainability, Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights
    • Increasing individual position effectiveness to reduce reliance on more people in the data center, Multi-Skilled Operations (MSO) model
    • Diligent training on new processes to optimize resource/staff
    • Adequately using unused capacity
  • Global Responsibility – Salute can help apply expertise and creative to help our customers integrate sustainability across their data centers:
    • Carbon Neutral strategy
    • Sourcing sustainably when materials are bought (i.e. uniforms, electric vehicles vs. gas powered vans, etc.)
    • Carbon offset charge for clients

Future generations are counting on this generation to be good stewards of the environment. Moreover, it makes business sense to drive resource consumption as low as possible. Sustainable operations drive bottom line results that will have a long term economic and social benefit.

There is a compelling case to combining workforce development and sustainable operations if it moves you beyond the competition who struggle to staff and maintain uptime. You won’t want to lose the opportunity to work with a mission critical services company whose procedures save you more than the cost of their service. When you are ready to see that become a reality, contact Salute Mission Critical to get skilled expertise with military precision.

Authors: Kristen Vosmaer and Lee Kirby

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