Sustainability has become a central focus for data centers worldwide. Strategies range from reducing carbon emissions to fostering ethical business practices. While physical security is often overlooked when developing these initiatives, integrating security and sustainability is critical for long-term success.

Physical security measures, such as access control, video surveillance, license plate recognition, and risk management protocols are traditionally associated with protecting data center equipment, data, and personnel. While their primary purpose is to safeguard against physical threats, these measures can have a significant impact on a broader sustainability strategy.

Supporting green building initiatives

Physical security systems can support green building initiatives by optimizing resource usage, enhancing building efficiency, and providing data-driven insights that help reduce environmental impact. In fact, according to the Genetec sustainability survey of over 1,400 physical security professionals, more than a third of organizations said they use data from their access control system to contribute to a more eco-friendly and efficient building operation.

IP-based physical security systems, such as access control, surveillance cameras, and alarm systems, can be integrated with building automation systems. Forward-thinking organizations are already seeing the benefits of such an approach: according to the Genetec survey, 42% of respondents reported they have their access control system linked to a building management system to allow for more efficient use of resources. For example, access control systems can ensure that lighting and HVAC systems are active only in areas where there is authorized access. This can help maintain optimal environmental conditions while minimizing resource consumption.

Access control systems can be used to zone building areas based on their environmental requirements. For example, server halls throughout the facility may have stricter climate control settings with cooling systems kicking in 24/7, as soon as any deviation in temperature is detected. However, other parts of the facility can be more flexible with higher deviations in temperature considered acceptable, particularly during off-hours. Climate control systems in these parts of the facility might even be synchronized with carbon intensity forecasts to initiate when energy is cleaner, helping to further reduce the facility’s carbon footprint. This zoning helps conserve energy by tailoring environmental conditions to specific needs.

IoT sensors too, can aid a data center’s push toward sustainability through adaptive lighting. In this instance, LED lights with sensors attached can allow operators to adjust the lighting in outdoor areas according to weather conditions, such as fog, rain, and natural lighting conditions, using power only when needed to reduce both energy emissions and the costs of lighting.

As the world grapples with the pressing challenges of environmental sustainability and climate change, organizations of all kinds are adopting holistic strategies. Within data centers, physical security technology emerges as an unexpected but strong ally in the pursuit of sustainability objectives. Its integration into sustainability strategies represents a forward-thinking approach that not only protects assets and lives but also paves the way for a more eco-conscious and resilient future. Data centers that recognize the potential of physical security technology in supporting the sustainability agenda are poised to reap the benefits.