Making data centers more sustainable
(Convenient translation of German version)
Data centers are an integral part of the digital infrastructure enabling society and businesses to be connected anytime, anywhere. To keep pace with the demand, the number of data centers is steadily increasing: the German data center market, currently estimated at around 5B Euros, witnesses an Annual Growth Rate of 2.3%.
However, the benefits made possible by digitization cannot justify its impact on the environment and climate. Much has been achieved over the years to increase the sustainability of data center operations, and additional strategies are already in place to further improve it. On the other hand, an aspect that does not yet make the headlines in data center conversations about sustainability is the impact of the construction phase. Globally, construction projects account for almost 40% of global CO2 emissions – often due to rushed planning, non-transparent choice of materials as well as complications on the construction site that lead to inefficiency. Looking at the numbers, this doesn’t seem like something we should ignore!
To make data centers more sustainable from the ground up, two specific aspects should be considered during construction:
1. Takt Planning
For construction processes to be more efficient, planning must be detailed and true to the project. Takt Planning has proven to be a viable approach to meeting these requirements. According to this methodology, individual project phases are broken down into “takt” that are equal-sized, coordinated cycles. In this way, bottlenecks and downtimes can be avoided. Specialized coordination software provides information on how much time the individual phases require and which materials and employees are needed at what time. Such software also plays out unexpected scenarios and helps with subsequent implementation. Good information management from the start is key for successful, sustainable projects.
2. Supply Chain
Working together with the supply chain and developing strategies to reduce Scope 3 emissions is a necessary step toward achieving climate neutrality by 2030. But to improve, we must first quantify and measure. Scope 3 emissions for raw materials, for instance, enclose all emissions from extraction to production, delivery, and processing as well as disposal or recycling. To calculate these emissions unambiguously, databases are needed. Significant data already exist on steel, concrete, and cement, for example. However, the situation is different for technical equipment, such as cabling and cooling, which account for about 70% of emissions within the data center, and for which data is not yet widely available.
You can read more information and the entire article by Herbert Radlinger, Managing Director at NDC-GARBE in issue 3/22 (EVT: 18.03) of funkschau.