Data centre sustainability in the spotlight

BREEAM, supported by datacentre specialist Keysource, has released a survey report designed to answer some of the most important industry questions around sustainability in the data centre industry. ‘Datacentres – The Sustainability Gap aims to improve understanding of how the BREEAM Data Centres Annex could bring value to the industry.

The survey covers a range of topics around the sustainability impacts of datacentres and asks whether the current industry standards remain relevant. Within the report Keysource has provided an additional viewpoint, highlighting some of the key findings.

The majority of respondents believed that existing sustainability assessment standards, including holistic sustainability assessments such as BREEAM and LEED, do not currently adequately address wider sustainability impacts of data centres. This presents an opportunity for built environment sustainability assessment methodologies to engage with the data centre industry to better respond to their sustainability needs.

Beyond energy efficiency the top impacts considered most important were renewable energy, circular economy, waste heat re-use and water use. With the exception of water use, fully addressing factors outside of the direct control of facility operators may require a more holistic collaboration across different industries.

Better awareness and collaboration within the industry are considered the main drivers to addressing these wider sustainability impacts. Better education and regulation (from government, industry or neutral party) are viewed as the ways to facilitate this change. Respondents also agreed that the benefits would create greater market advantage, CSR, and cost- savings for those who adopt these practices.

The new BREEAM Data Centres Annex launched in November 2019 aims to support the data centre industry in it’s ever evolving sustainability needs. The annex allows data centre buildings to assess and improve upon their sustainability and environmental performance against the current BREEAM New Construction International manual for new build projects around the world.

Stephen Lorimer at Keysource, said: “We believe it is important for us to support BREEAM and the broader sector in its drive for sustainability as we believe is one of the biggest challenges the industry is facing. We have also been working with them to help develop the criteria appendices for International BREEAM to make it specifically applicable for datacentres, sharing our knowledge and experience gathered over many years in the sector to make this standard relevant.”

Shamir Ghumra, BREEAM Director said “The pace of change in the world is ever accelerating and BREEAM is continuously evolving to help the built environment move towards a net zero world. Data Centres represent a key part of the global building portfolio and is one that has shown leadership in moving towards more sustainable design, construction and performance. This new criteria annex to BREEAM will provide this important asset class with greater assurance on its sustainability aspirations for investors, clients and tenants alike.”

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