Now Is the Time for Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Data Centers - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Energy Efficiency  -  July 17, 2020 - By Andrew Schaap, Aligned

Now Is the Time for Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Data Centers

As local and national economies begin to reemerge from the global health crisis and we look back on the historic acceleration of telework, distance learning, and the digitalization of business and government, it’s now clear that we have been afforded a glimpse into the future. The sudden surge in online activities has not only reinforced the importance of data centers and cloud computing for our society, business, and bottom-lines, but it also brings to the fore urgent technological and environmental challenges. As a result, there has never been a stronger case, nor a more urgent time, for designing and building energy-efficient and sustainable data center infrastructure.  

As any CTO, CIO, IT, or facilities administrator will tell you, it takes a substantial amount of energy and often copious amounts of water to power and cool a traditional data center. According to Global Market Insights, conventional cooling systems, on average, represent 40% of total data center energy consumption. Meanwhile, data centers worldwide, as with all industrial sectors in advanced economies, face the potentially spiraling challenge of decreasing water resources.

Aligned was founded on the premise of solving the world’s toughest sustainability challenges associated with data center infrastructure, energy consumption and water usage, and the company’s commitment to sustainability is woven throughout our corporate fabric. Earlier in the year, Aligned announced its increased commitment to environmental stewardship by matching 100% of the IT loads across its data center portfolio with certified renewable energy. Additionally, the company’s proprietary cooling technology, Delta3, utilizes up to 80% less energy and 85% less water to improve Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), reduce environmental impact, and lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for customers.

Delivering Rapidly Scalable, Yet Sustainable Data Centers
Aligned’s ability to deploy our mechanical and electrical systems in small increments, and only when additional capacity is needed, contributes to sustainability because we are not deploying and stranding resources that aren’t being utilized for an extended period of time. Moreover, this empowers hyperscalers, cloud and platform providers, and enterprises with high-density computing requirements to truly future-proof their IT environments in the wake of unpredictable usage and growth models. 

Aligned works collaboratively with clients to achieve shared carbon-reduction goals, and access to renewable power options is a critical criteria in our data center location selection process, whether a customer seeks to deploy a new facility in proximity to a wind farm in Scandinavia, or a next to a solar array in Arizona. In some cases, these engagements may go beyond Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), carbon offsets, and various Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

An example of this is Aligned’s Tier III 180 MW data center in Phoenix, which was designated a sustainability redevelopment project. The Arizona Public Service (APS) has one of the country’s most substantial renewable energy portfolios, using a balanced energy mix that is 50 percent carbon-free. Aligned is currently working with the APS, which is now purchasing clean energy from a new solar power supplier as part of its “Solar after Sunset” program. In turn, our colocation tenants receive the benefit of an attractive, long-term tax exemption on their IT equipment purchases.

Just recently, Aligned was also named a 2020 Green Lease Leader by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Alliance. Launched in 2014, Green Lease Leaders sets national standards for what constitutes a green lease, while recognizing property owners and their customers who modernize their leases to spur collaborative action on energy efficiency, cost-savings, air quality, and sustainability in buildings. Aligned achieved SILVER Recognition for evolving its sustainability standards to implement green leasing practices that drive reduced operating costs, shared energy savings, and sustainability benefits across its entire portfolio of adaptive data centers. To receive this recognition, Aligned qualified for credits in energy efficiency and sustainability best practices such as utility data tracking and sharing, cost recovery for capital improvements and sustainability training.

When it comes to delivering rapidly scalable, yet sustainable data center infrastructure, flexibility is essential. This flexibility can come in a variety of attributes. As discussed, it extends to a willingness and ability to offer customers access to a variety of renewable power options that meet their needs, as well as ultra-efficient cooling technologies that reduce water usage and enable customers to accommodate varying workloads and scale without stranding capacity or space. Flexibility also means considering access and proximity to renewables in the site selection process of a prospective data center, and data center design principles and construction processes that support sustainability, from building materials to supply chain methodology.

This level of flexibility, however, also requires a data center provider to have ready access to capital in order to achieve maximum velocity across platform delivery and ensure unprecedented speed-to-market. As we return to our corporate offices and schools, the present uptick surrounding digital service usage is likely to abate, but just how much remains to be seen. According to a recent Gartner study, approximately 74 percent of CFOs surveyed expect some of their employees now working remotely due to COVID-19 will continue working this way after the pandemic ends. Compound this with the amount of data that next-generation technologies will generate, including IoT-enabled devices, Artificial Intelligence, 5G, and autonomous vehicles, and it’s clear that the demand for compute, networking, and storage capacity will remain relatively high. So too, will the need for intelligent, adaptive, and sustainable data center solutions that ensure minimal environmental impact.


Andrew Schaap is CEO of Aligned. As a data center, IT, private equity and real estate executive with over 20 years of complex transactional experience and multi-disciplinary senior leadership, he is dedicated to accelerating business growth by driving the delivery of data center solutions with industry-leading technology and adaptive infrastructure. Since beginning his tenure with Aligned three years ago, Andrew has exponentially grown company revenues, completed several successful capital raisings, and cultivated an ecosystem of innovation that advances Aligned’s commitment to reducing the social, economic and environmental impact of the digital era.

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