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News Article

Data Centers Adopt Tech to Reduce their Environmental Impact

By Sofía Garduño | Thu, 05/12/2022 - 14:17

A challenging environmental scenario is prompting consumers to demand more accountability from the businesses they work with, leading companies to increasingly implement business practices with an environmental and social perspective. Data centers, which contribute to 0.3 percent of global CO2 emissions and are accountable for the consumption of 1 percent of global electricity demand, are also committing to work toward a greener future. By focusing on eco-friendly trends, integrating circular thinking and embracing digitalization, data centers can greatly decrease their environmental impact and promote sustainable practices among different industries.

 

“Data centers are not static; they must improve and be at the vanguard,” said Amet Novillo, Country Manager, Equinox. The constant search for efficiency in the use of energy must be a priority for data centers, said Novillo. Equinix is taking advantage of its global experience to implement best practices in Mexico through its “Future First” sustainability strategy, which is based on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives. The company aims to build a business that brings the world together to create innovations that will enrich businesses and the planet. “As a company in the digital development sector, we care about sustainability on our planet,” said Novillo.

 

Data centers are exploring different sustainability alternatives, such as using lithium batteries, gas-powered generators and cooling water systems, said Juan Carlos Casillas, Sales Manager, Stulz México. These centers are also betting on renewable energies and aligning with the latest trends in the market. “Some data centers, which consume around 600 megawatts, are obtaining their energy from nuclear sources,” said Josué Ramírez, Regional Director Latin America, IDCA.

 

Chip and server manufacturers are also using technologies that process more information in less space, increasing efficiency. Moreover, the cloud is reducing the use of spaces and promoting sustainable operations. “Virtualization and the use of the cloud should mark an interesting trend to follow in our country,” said Ramírez.

 

Although the implementation of eco-friendly solutions represents an important investment for data centers, these measures reduce the use of physical spaces and speed up the commercialization of services and products. Costs are also reduced while more profit is achieved by allowing companies to enter new markets, said Novillo. Data centers are also attractive because both providers and users value the implementation of sustainable operations. “Large cloud and application suppliers are companies that advocate for sustainability and they are looking for data centers that provide it,” said Novillo

 

Data centers, however, face many challenges in the road to sustainability. The largest hurdle is having an adequate plan to make eco-friendly data centers. “Having a suitable geographical location is essential for a data center to be eco-friendly,” said Casillas.

 

Legal regulation is also needed so data centers follow sustainability guidelines. “Companies need regulation from an entity to ensure that they are operating properly. A recycling assessment is essential to help companies to work sustainably,” said Ramírez.

 

By recycling its electronic waste, the data center industry would transform into a more sustainable one, as it will boost circular economy practices. Circular economy strategies across all industries are a response to the growing scarcity of resources and the importance of sustainable value chains is increasing. Demand is growing, so electronic waste should be managed to lessen the environmental impact of this industry, said Casillas.

 

“A great part of the components used in data centers can be reused; it is important to promote recycling across the sector,” said Ramírez. The increase in the demand for data centers is attributed to the pandemic and the acceleration of digitalization. “Trends, such as e-commerce and digital automation are digitizing processes where data centers play an important role. With the support of the government, we must make electronic recycling a reality to benefit the planet,” said Casillas.

 

Mexico is Latin America’s second-largest economy and its proximity to the US helps Mexico link with countries to the north and south, said Novillo. “There are many opportunities. Mexico’s potential digitization market accelerated during the pandemic. The digital transformation is attractive because you can reach more markets while accelerating income and decreasing investment,” he added.

 

However, many companies across different sectors are still reluctant to digitalize, as they worry about having the correct infrastructure to transition to eco-friendly operations. Ramírez explained that companies should not worry about infrastructure, which is already being offered by several providers; they should focus on embracing the benefits of digitalization.

 

Mexico’s geographic location makes it an ideal spot for data centers, while the continued digitalization of everyday life will only lead more companies and users to demand these services. “We are going to become a reference country in data centers. We are going to be an important hub globally, increasingly leading to private investment,” added Casillas.

 

Sofía Garduño Sofía Garduño Journalist & Industry Analyst