Sustainability: Take pride in our role and raise the bar

Energy efficiency is nothing new to those that work in data centres, it is something that we spend our lives chasing, looking for every improvement we can make.  Advances in technology help of course, but that is not the end of the story – it needs to be managed properly.

Sustainability has increasingly become a corporate issue of significance and quite rightly, we all have a responsibility to look after the planet for the generations to come, and use its resources wisely, to ensure that our impact on ecosystems is minimised.  Energy efficiency is part of that sustainability story, but as an industry we have looked to reduce the impact of HVAC systems, improve environmental monitoring, and move to greater recycling of decommissioned equipment, and indeed using recycled materials where practical.

The data centres we all work in, of course help organisations enable remote working, which reduces the environmental impact of those business, as well as gives us all a more sustainable life with reduced ‘dead time’ commuting, when we could be enjoying life or at least be being more productive.

As an industry we still have a long way to go, but we shouldn’t underestimate the positive impact that we are able to have and also understand how important sustainability has become for the corporate agenda.  Stories regularly grab headlines about the amount of energy used for certain computing tasks.  For example, mining crypto currencies, which is a very processing intensive activity.  In May this year, Elon Musk, was forced to retract his intention for Tesla to except Bitcoins as payment for its vehicles, because of the amount of mining (processing) that takes place in China fuelled by electricity largely generated from fossil fuels.  A reality that flies in the face of many of the company’s brand values.

While that may seem like an extreme example, it does illustrate the balancing act facing all businesses as they seek to achieve their sustainability goals, and ensure they have access to all the technology needed to conduct business operations.  For us in the data centre that means regularly checking the efficiency of our systems and considering changes that can be made beyond maintenance and monitoring that can have a long-term impact sustainability.  We need to keep playing our part and raise the bar higher.

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