Intelligent Data Centres Issue 45 - Page 32

EDITOR ’ S QUESTION
RICH KENNY , SUSTAINABILITY & RESEARCH DIRECTOR
ASTRID WYNNE , HEAD OF SUSTAINABILITY – TECHBUYER
he key thing is that leaders must very

T much commit to making the necessary changes or it will never happen . Leaders need to understand and quantify the positive impacts that can come as a result of adopting sustainable practices so that they have an incentive to seize the opportunity sustainable practice represents .

Traditionally , the sector focuses on the elements of sustainability that relate to efficiency and reduced costs , like energy efficiency . There has been less of an interest in other material reductions like the use of water , metals and critical raw materials . However , with material shortages on the near-term horizon , this is going to have to change in the medium term .
Sustainability brings reduced water and energy bills , with associated carbon savings and cost benefits . It means conserving stockpiles of rare earths and precious metals , insulating the business from market volatility , which is something that is going to be increasingly important over the next decade . Sustainable business practice also helps to better employee engagement and retention , which is vital in a sector facing a skills shortage and having to compete with higher profile industries for young talent .
There are also customer and investment benefits of aligning to doing the right thing as well as raised brand profile – and that ’ s without going into the benefits for our local communities , the environment , biodiversity and our future society .
A sustainability plan is like any other business plan – it relates to risk and opportunity , strengths and weaknesses . Once the intention is made , leaders need to articulate an improvement plan framed around what the impacts of the business are on the environment and how these can be improved . This starts with a reduction of harmful practices and ends with mitigation of the harm that cannot be removed . It requires whole systems thinking .
For the data centre sector , decision-makers need to focus on energy efficiency from the IT as a first resort rather than the cooling / power generation and building . With a historic focus on PUE , we have tended to ignore the simple truth that IT efficiency is at the heart of data centre efficiency . Not only are the servers the reason the building exists , they are also the single highest energy draw and environmental impact of the data centre . This is not a common approach in the industry and that needs to change as soon as possible .
Right now , the data centre sector is pretty risk averse and reluctant to do anything . Within that is a real opportunity for forward-thinking leaders who want to do things differently . Given where we are with materials and energy supply , sustainability will not be a choice in 10 years ’ time . There is huge advantage to being an early mover . �
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