This writer believes otherwise, offering regional industry insights that could pave the way for the greening of data center worldwide…

Contrary to what some decision-makers believe, efficiency and sustainability are not incompatible objectives for data center (DC) operators.

For example, an IDC blog has asserted that “half of all companies” consider the opportunities arising from sustainability initiatives as the primary reason they have adopted the latter. Writ large, sustainability — particularly when it comes to data centers — does not have to come at the risk of losing a competitive edge.

Sustainability initiatives reduce waste, optimize costs, and improve efficiency in day-to-day operations. Through the implementation of well-thought-out sustainability policies, companies can significantly reduce their carbon footprint while optimizing financial performance.

Sustainability initiatives also foster innovation and increased productivity. By seeking out eco-friendly solutions and incorporating innovative technologies, organizations can drive advancements in their industry while achieving higher operational efficiency. These initiatives also contribute to attraction and retention of high-performing staff, as more top talents want to work for employers that are aligned with their values.

Paul Churchill, VP and General Manager, Vertiv Asia

The case in Singapore

The increased relevance of thermal management technologies in Singapore’s data center industry exemplifies how sustainability and business efficiency are inseparable.

    • The consistent heat load generated, combined with elevated external temperatures, makes these technologies essential to maintaining optimal operating conditions and preventing equipment failures.
    • Furthermore, inefficient cooling technologies also increase a data center’s energy consumption and adversely impacts the operator’s bottom line.
    • With the added pressure its tropical climate adds on data center cooling technologies, deploying more efficient thermal management strategies is key to making Singapore’s data center industry stand out from those of its neighbors.

One key trend in achieving data center sustainability and efficiency is the shift towards clean energy, with data centers now striving to rely on renewable energy sources to power their operations. For example, data centers can move on from diesel-powered generators to solar energy when it comes to their backup power source. 

Boosting efficiency for sustainability

Three avenues are now being pursued in addressing data center efficiency and sustainability:

    • Operators are actively eliminating carbon-intensive practices to minimize their environmental impact. Data centers now measure the carbon emissions of their power sources, as well as those directly emitted by their facilities. Operators can also incorporate decarbonization measures in their building design, processes, and the entirety of their supply chain.
    • Data center operators are exploring immersion cooling technology: by submerging servers and other components in a thermally conductive dielectric liquid, they can eliminate the need for energy-consuming air cooling or fans, which in turn, significantly improves energy efficiency. This sustainable approach is considered the most efficient form of liquid cooling, driving power usage efficiency (PUE) close to 1.0.
    • In addition to these innovations, the industry is embracing the principles of a circular economy to effectively manage waste streams and come up with more ways to recycle and refurbish materials. For example, the potential to utilize the residual heat generated by data centers for other industries is currently being explored.

Additionally, upcoming technologies are being developed to recycle batteries used in data centers, reducing e-waste and environmental impact.

Boosting DC competitiveness

As the demand for cloud services continues to skyrocket, data center operators are facing the challenge of meeting growing demand while also being environmentally responsible. Southeast Asia is emerging as an attractive destination for DC location. However, to gain a competitive edge in this market, operators must invest in sustainability initiatives.

Contrary to popular belief, sustainability initiatives not only benefit the planet but also the bottom line. By implementing energy-efficient cooling systems, waste reduction strategies, and renewable energy sources, DC operators can significantly reduce their carbon footprint while optimizing their financial performance. These can lead to reduced waste, optimized costs, improved cost-effectiveness, increased operational efficiency, and better attractiveness for talent, as well as better retention rates.

Combined, these give the region’s data center industry the edge over the rest of the region while setting an example for other industries in terms of environmental responsibility.