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Sustainability Spotlight: Chicago


Chad Ritsema, Principal Solutions Engineer, Digital Realty

Gartner recently discussed their top ten data and analytics (D&A) trends, noting sustainability as a transformational opportunity for organizations. However, “It is not enough for D&A leaders to provide analysis and insights for enterprise environmental, social, and governance (ESG) projects. D&A leaders must also try to optimize their own processes for sustainability improvement.”1 What is your enterprise doing to operationalize your sustainability practices?

Digital Realty is a leader in green data centers
Sustainability is a core focus for Digital Realty, and we remain committed to achieving our 2030 science-based carbon reduction targets by continuing to invest in new technologies that will improve our performance and reduce our overall environmental impact. Our customers choose to partner with us because we help to lower utility costs, are energy efficient, and develop our data centers under sustainable certification standards. We are the first data center provider to achieve 1 GW of new wind and solar power contracted in the US. We’re also proud to continue to garner ESG recognition and awards, such as:

  • The 2022 EPA ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award, exemplifying our excellence in data center energy efficiency
  • The 2022 Green Lease Leader - Platinum Award, showcasing our commitment to sustainability between landlords and tenants
  • Newsweek’s Most Responsible Companies 2022
  • JUST Capital’s America’s Most JUST Companies 2022 – Top 100
  • EPA Green Power Partnership – No.9 in the National Top 100

And we’re just getting started.

Addressing explosive generative AI (gen AI) growth
A recent McKinsey Global Survey confirms the undeniably tremendous adoption of gen AI tools; in less than a year since their debut, “40 percent of respondents say their organizations will increase their investment in AI overall because of advances in gen AI.”2 However, AI requires more compute, network, and storage infrastructure than any digital shift since the cloud, and high-performance computing (HPC) applications like AI and the high volume of compute and storage results in huge demand for energy consumption and the need for more sustainable energy sources.

Chicago Metro: Our connectivity gateway for global enterprises
Chicago is a significant center of HPC and one of the top data center markets in the US. The metro has become a thriving technology and financial services center and a highly desired location for hyper scalers, Fortune 500 businesses, and startups alike, driving international economic growth.

One of our largest operating areas, the Chicago metro offers a robust ecosystem with access to over 185 cloud and network service providers. You can unlock a universe of data with access to over 324.7k ft² of colocation space and 375k+ kilowatt (kW) total power capacity. Chicago is also a prime disaster recovery location for business-critical enterprises, hosting 35+ cloud companies, 40+ enterprises, 10+ content providers, and 70+ financial organizations. 70% of Digital Realty’s Chicago data centers are 100% carbon-free and we have certified 1 million square feet of our Chicago data centers under green building certifications.

At our Franklin Park campus, one of our flagships, data centers are designed and operated with sustainability at the heart. The property was re-developed on a site previously used by a packaging and processing machinery provider. The brownfield redevelopment achieved an exemplary 96% waste diversion rate during construction and delivered an energy- and water-efficient data center. Additionally, 55% of total building materials were sourced regionally - manufactured and extracted within 500 miles of the project site - to reduce construction phase transportation, environmental impacts, and logistics costs.

The data center at 9377 Grand Avenue achieved LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Other buildings on the campus have received similar LEED certifications and Energy Star recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for energy efficiency, as well as the International Standardization Organization certification for environmental management, ISO 14001.

Go Green and Go Global with PlatformDIGITAL®
PlatformDIGITALis our global data center and connectivity platform. This data-centric architecture offers tailored deployments at any size, scale, and right-sized connectivity options.

With PlatformDIGITAL, top international brands can:

  • Optimize network performance
  • Enhance security and infrastructure management
  • Deploy, connect, and host critical data infrastructure

Explore Chicago

Dive into PlatformDIGITAL®

More information about our global sustainability commitments is in our new annual corporate sustainability report.

1 Gartner Press Release. “Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2023,” (2023, May 9)
2 McKinsey & Company. The state of AI in 2023: Generative AI’s breakout year. (2023, August).