NEW YORK — Uptime Institute announced a new executive advisory report series titled “Digital infrastructure sustainability – a manager’s guide.” The new advisory series is a uniquely practical resource that owners and operators can use to establish and implement an effective sustainability strategy. 

The launch of this comprehensive executive advisory series is the latest step in Uptime’s longstanding and expanding program to inform, guide, and support sustainability efforts within the sector — and it comes at a critical time for digital infrastructure operators. Governments worldwide are beginning to establish new regulations and promulgate new policies to discourage unsustainable data center growth, drive procurement of low-carbon data center services, and move toward net-zero carbon emissions goals.

However, research by Uptime clearly shows that most organizations have not put in place many of the strategies, processes, and controls they will need to meet all stakeholder expectations and legislator demands. According to Uptime’s 2021 Global Data Center Survey, most organizations tend to only compile and report on power-related sustainability metrics, while far too few are tracking other key elements, such as water use (just 51%), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (just 33%), and IT efficiency (just 25%). 

The first report in the series, “Creating a sustainability strategy,” defines the key elements to include in a sustainability strategy, the actions necessary for a successful implementation, and the processes required to measure progress against goals and objectives.

The complete series of six reports takes managers through the key areas that must be addressed in an environmental sustainability strategy, ranging from creating the strategy, reducing energy consumption, buying renewable energy, tracking and reporting carbon emissions, managing water consumption, and equipment reuse and recycling. The advisory series also provides guidance on compliance with and the adoption of critical standards and legislative initiatives, many of which are both confused and confusing.

“As sustainability requirements become more demanding, digital infrastructure operators must be prepared with a comprehensive, actionable sustainability strategy,” said Andy Lawrence, founding member and executive director, Uptime Intelligence. 

“This advisory series is a how-to guide to implementing effective environmental sustainability initiatives that span all facilities and IT operations and address the needs of all stakeholders inside and outside the organization,” said Jay Dietrich, research director of sustainability, Uptime Intelligence, and lead author of the report series. 

Uptime has been advising operators of digital infrastructure on sustainability and efficiency since 2007, the year of the first Uptime Institute Green Data Center forum. Through its Sustainability Consulting Services and related offerings, Uptime advises some of the world’s largest digital infrastructure owners and operators, many vendors and equipment manufacturers, regulators and policymakers to help the sector design, build, and operate digital infrastructure sustainably — without compromising resiliency. 

Upcoming reports in the series include the following.

  • Reducing the energy footprint — The first objective of a sustainability plan is to minimize energy use through efficiency measures. Further benefits will be realized by replacing electricity from nonrenewable sources with renewably generated energy.
  • “Tackling greenhouse gases” — Operators of digital infrastructure must have a greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal that takes into account Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions — and they must report these reductions in accordance with agreed policy.  
  • “IT efficiency: the critical core of digital sustainability” — A digital sustainability strategy should incorporate both the facilities and IT operations, even for colocation operators. This report covers strategies, software tools, and metrics that can help drive up IT efficiency. 
  • “Navigating regulations and standards” — Critical digital infrastructure is subject to an expanding set of regulations, directives, and standards, with varying levels of maturity and acceptance. Most are voluntary, but more are becoming mandatory. 
  • “Three sustainability elements: water, the circular economy and siting” — This report discusses three important elements of the sustainability strategy: water use; siting, including design and certification; and reuse, disposal, and recycling. Addressing these elements can significantly reduce the environmental impact of digital infrastructure. 
  • “Glossary of digital infrastructure sustainability” — This document explains the key terms used by those defining, regulating, and applying digital infrastructure sustainability strategies.