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Data Centers Driving Energy Efficiency

June 2, 2016  |  Written by Digital Realty

Although disregarded until recently, energy efficiency is fast becoming targeted as a way to save money in business and in our homes.

Energy efficiency is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to battle climate change, spare the air we breathe, improve the competitiveness of our businesses, and reduce energy costs. That’s why the DOE continues to award high marks for leadership in energy efficiency and innovation through its Better Buildings Challenge.

Digital Realty Awarded High Marks for PUE
In 2015 Digital Realty was recognized for achieving a 13% annual energy performance improvement. This complements the cumulative 17% improvement we’ve accomplished over the past three years, bringing us significantly closer to our ten-year goal of 20%. This makes the company something of a poster child among the commercial data center partners participating in the challenge. The move toward improved energy performance across the portfolio of data centers is part of our overall strategy to bring light to the value of sustainability for our clients and the industry as a whole.

In the U.S. today, there are about 3 million data centers, or roughly one for every 100 people, according to Better Buildings Challenge Director Maria Vargas.  As our use of digital communications grows, so will data center density. As a class of building, data centers are among the highest consumers of power. Improving energy efficiency in these business critical facilities is an urgent goal of our national energy program and for our own sustainability strategy.

The Better Buildings Challenge represents the joint effort of hundreds of public and private sector organizations to develop and share strategies addressing the energy consumption dilemma. Participating government agencies are targeting a cumulative 4% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. More than 300 private sector participants have enrolled 4.2 billion square feet of building space in the program.

Better Buildings Reduce Carbon Emissions

Together, public and private sector partners have upgraded more than 9,000 facilities. To date, Better Buildings Challenge partners across the U.S. have saved 160 trillion BTUs of energy, avoided 10 trillion tons of carbon emissions, and saved 2.3 billion gallons of water. This translates into $1.3 billion savings on the global energy bill.

Because Digital Realty is a wholesale provider of data center space, our tenants pay their own energy bills and manage their own IT infrastructure. Our Better Buildings Challenge efforts focus on improving the energy efficiency of the facilities themselves.

We’ve already achieved substantial energy savings by implementing heating and air conditioning upgrades, including putting variable frequency drives in our cooling systems to match energy consumption to actual demand, and deploying air containment and controls optimizations.

Digital Realty is actively working on energy efficiency improvements beyond the Better Buildings Challenge as well. At our El Segundo, California site, our management team partnered with Southern California Edison to improve data center energy efficiency. This effort began in 2011 and has resulted in 3.7 million kilowatt hours of annualized energy savings.  Digital Realty’s property team was recognized by the Climate Registry with a Cool Planet Award in 2015 . Recent sustainability upgrades to energy efficiency in the public areas of our Oakland data center earned us LEED certification in 2016.

Each time one of our data centers achieves a step toward greater energy savings, it provides a template for us to apply energy savings across the entire Digital Realty portfolio. What we learn and achieve as a company, we share with fellow participants in the Better Buildings Challenge.

Learn more about our Sustainability efforts.