Datacenter operators have called for stricter reporting of their carbon emissions and water use

Datacenter operators have called for stricter reporting of their carbon emissions and water use

Datacenter operators still fall short in monitoring the environmental impact of their facilities, with most failing to keep tabs on the carbon and water used by their facilities.

This is one of the Uptime Institute’s 12 standout findingsm Annually Global Data Center Surveywhich is compiled from feedback from 800 datacenter owners and operators, as well as 700 datacenter suppliers, designers and consultants from around the world.

The results suggest that only a third of operators (37% and 39% respectively) collect and report data on their sites’ carbon emissions and water use statistics.

When it comes to reporting their Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions, only 17% said they collected data on the former, while 12% said they did the latter.

Despite the fact that 63% of operators who took part in this year’s survey believe that within five years authorities in the jurisdictions in which they operate will be required to publicly report their environmental data.

In this regard, the 33-page report accompanying the survey states: “[Carbon emissions] This could quickly become an area of ​​concern for businesses, as most organizations and/or their customers will be required to report this data under new laws, initiatives and regulations implemented around the world.”

For this reason, Uptime is advising operators to start reporting all data on carbon emissions and water use now before any legal requirements come into force – as this type of data is increasingly being used to decide whether new projects should go ahead. Or not.

“A growing number of municipalities will only allow datacenter developments if they are designed for minimal or near-zero direct water use,” the report continued. “Such regulations will greatly influence facility design and product choices in the future, mandating cooling equipment that uses little water (or none at all).”

As detailed elsewhere in the report, although the industry’s track record in recording carbon emissions and water use is spotty, most operators are much better at collecting energy efficiency data as it impacts the bottom line.

“Most operators collect data related to electricity efficiency, which is as much about reducing environmental impact as it is about saving money,” the report said.

That’s why 85% of respondents said they report their datacenter’s overall power usage, and 73% said they also monitor their facility’s Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) score — for internal or external purposes.

In that regard, the report suggests that industry-wide PUE scores are plateauing – and have been for the past several years – after some significant declines between 2007 and 2018, when the average PUE score shrank from 2.5 to 1.58.

The annual average PUE score now stands at 1.55, which the report says is because the sector is “reaching the limits of efficiency” but “largely reflecting the widespread adoption of cheaper efficiency measures” that have led to the biggest drop in PUE scores seen since 2007.

Looking ahead, the think tank predicts that PUE scores are likely to rise in the coming years, despite a long-term downward trend, as new server processors hit the market with higher thermal power requirements that could push the air limit. Cold datacenter.

“If these hot chips become commonplace in a few years, the industry average PUE could rise before it falls,” the report said.

“Performance requirements and expectations around efficiency will likely push an increasing number of operators (and their IT tenants) towards direct liquid cooling (DLC). Greater adoption of DLC could contribute to greater efficiency in both new builds and retrofits in the 2020s and beyond.”

Respondents to the report also said they want to invest in increasing the resiliency of their datacenters, with 40% saying they have invested in improving the resiliency of the infrastructure located within their primary sites in the past three to five years.

Those investments are paying off, Uptime’s data suggests, with the company tracking “steady improvements in outage rates per site (or per survey respondent)” and 60% of operators saying they’ve suffered an outage in the past three years, up from 69% in 2021 and down from 78% in 2020.

Nevertheless, Uptime cautioned against reading too much into these data points, as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have made year-over-year comparisons difficult where datacenter operations are concerned. “It may be too early to call this a strong trend… [and] The level of outages is still very high, even if improvements are seen.”

The report says that when outages do occur, they are becoming an increasingly expensive cost of doing business for operators. “When asked about the cost of their most recent outage, a quarter of respondents said outages cost more than $1 million in both direct and indirect costs – a significant increase from 2021 and continuing a clear trend. A further 45% said their most recent outage cost between $100,000 and $1m,” the report said.

The The rising cost of outages can be attributed to a combination of factors, the report continued. “Ranging from inflation, fines, service-level agreement violations and labor costs, callouts and replacement parts,” it said. “But the biggest single factor is the growing dependence of corporate economic activity on digital services and datacenters. The loss of a critical IT service often translates directly and immediately into disrupted business and lost revenue.”

Andy Lawrence, executive director of research at Uptime Institute Intelligence, said the survey results point to the fact that work still needs to be done on several fronts to improve how the sector operates.

“The global digital infrastructure sector continues to enjoy strong growth and expansion, despite the many obstacles operators face today,” said Lawrence.

“We’ve seen the industry invest in increased resilience and reliability, but there’s still work to be done in improving efficiency, environmental sustainability, outage resistance, staffing pipelines and more.”

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