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Digital Infrastructure Sustainability: Navigating Regulations and Standards

Data centers are subject to an expanding set of largely voluntary sustainability standards and requirements. They cover measurement and reporting, water and energy use, renewable energy procurement, equipment and system efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions management, adherence to a circular economy approach, and siting and design requirements.

Investors and customers will increasingly use these standards to make investment and purchasing decisions. Legislators and regulators will use them as the basis of mandates governing the sustainability of operations and periodic sustainability reporting. Over the next decade, any operator hoping to thrive in the data center services marketplace will need to meet the requirements of many of these standards.

  • Operators currently have significant latitude to design their sustainability framework and strategy to fit their business, meeting some — but usually not all — expectations.

  • Managers need to track future mandates as they develop so they can anticipate requirements and appropriately modify their sustainability strategy.

  • Data center operators should develop and explain workable facility and IT efficiency metrics, which they can use to inform and influence those proposing emerging mandates and standards.

  • Operators need a clearly defined, consistent set of standards and sustainability reporting requirements. Where opportunities exist, operators should provide guidance to regulators and participate in the rulemaking process.

Report Authors:

  • Jay Dietrich, Research Director of Sustainability Uptime Institute
  • Andy Lawrence, Executive Director of Research Uptime Institute

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