Skip to content

APAC Global Member Summit Highlights #IMSustainability

Sustainability – in general, and Infrastructure Masons’ sustainability vision in particular – was front-and-center at our recent APAC Global Member Summit, the second of three virtual Summits we’re hosting this spring.

The event was moderated by iMasons Founder and Chairman Dean Nelson and featured fireside chats with industry leaders Sunita Bottse and Blaise Porter, a panel discussion with David Wang, Raymond Tong, Yali Liu, and Narendra Sen, and a working session where Summit attendees ­– senior-level end users and partners from across the digital infrastructure ecosystem – shared their feedback.

Overall, the message was consistent with what we heard at the Americas Summit: Sustainability matters, for the digital infrastructure industry, and the world, and while much progress has been made, there is still much work to be done.

“Sustainability matters, for the digital infrastructure industry, and the world, and while much progress has been made, there is still much work to be done.” Click to tweet

Highlights from Dean Nelson’s fireside chat with Sunita Bottse, Managing Director, SUPERNAP Thailand

If you told Sunita Bottse ten years ago that today she’d be managing director of a Tier IV data center in Thailand, she would’ve called you crazy. “The data center chose me,” she explained to Dean Nelson in a virtual fireside chat.

Bottse explained that a couple of industry leaders saw in her the potential for greatness, even though she knew “zero” about data centers, and encouraged her to join the industry. Today, she is committed to doing the same for other newcomers. “I’m eager to stimulate current and upcoming professionals in STEM and the data center industry.”

When asked what sustainability means to her, Bottse answered like many industry leaders have, saying, “It’s our duty to take care of the health, way of life, and environment of current and future generations so they can prosper.” Achieving that requires innovation. “We see the data center industry is evolving and we need to keep innovating and applying innovative technologies,” she said.

About Infrastructure Masons’ sustainability vision, “Every click improves the future,” Bottse said, “This is a huge step in creating awareness and contributing to global sustainable development. Many of us are already working together but it can be more intensified. When it comes to sustainability we should view ourselves not as competitors but as partners. Together we can achieve more.”

For more, watch the video of Bottse’s fireside chat here.

“When it comes to sustainability we should view ourselves not as competitors but as partners. Together we can achieve more.” Click to tweet

Highlights from Dean Nelson’s fireside chat with Blaise Porter, Responsible Business Director, Fujitsu

Blaise Porter was also chosen by her career. Working her way up the ranks at Fujitsu (she started at the company as an administrative assistant), she eventually found herself planting trees in Borneo, on the company’s annual eco tour. It still wasn’t until four years later, though, after giving birth to her first child, that she decided to commit her career to sustainability.

“It’s a cliché but having a baby does make you reflect on the world that you brought this new life into. And what you’re spending 40 hours a week doing. It crystalized things for me to move into more purpose-centered direction,” Porter explained to Dean Nelson in a virtual fireside chat.

As Director of Responsible Business at Fujitsu in Australia, Porter manages the work the company does in the community, specifically, reconciliation action plans with aboriginal communities. “That’s new for Fujitsu,” she said. “We launched our first action plan in that area in 2018. Fujitsu recognizes the expectations of the wider society we live in. Our focus is about leveraging what we do well and applying that in ways to help the community.”

(For two great stories of responsible business in action, leveraging Fujitsu technology to create digital community archives and to identify endangered trees, watch the video of Porter’s fireside chat.)

For Fujitsu, responsible business is doing good for profit, people, and the planet. It’s a “triple bottom line” and it’s reinforced by the company’s spot on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index – 20 years running. “It’s about doing what we can within our own four walls and with our technology to help our communities.”

“It’s about doing what we can within our own four walls and with our technology to help our communities.” Click to tweet

For more, watch the video of Porter’s fireside chat here.

Highlights from the panel discussion with David Wang, Raymond Tong, Yali Liu, and Narendra Sen

In a virtual panel discussion with Dean Nelson, industry leaders from China, India, and Hong Kong shared their perspectives on sustainability – in many ways very similar, but with some striking differences. These are highlights from the conversation. For more, watch the video of the panel discussion here.

Yali Liu, EVP, Chayora: “In China in 2019, wind power was around 5% and solar around 3% [of total energy consumption]. But it’s a significant increase from 2018 – a 20% increase in wind power consumed and a 50% increase in solar. And those numbers are consumption; capacity is actually much higher. There is a lot being done by the government and industry to use the capacity and drive a higher percentage of renewable energy.”

Raymond Tong, CEO, SUNeVision: “We’re working with the Hong Kong power company on getting local renewable energy from solar, wind, and landfill gas. Renewable energy is 50% more costly than normal electricity but we want to lead the change so we’re working with our major customers and asking them to join us. But it’s going to be a process.”

Narendra Sen, CEO, RackBank: “There is currently just 400 MW of data center capacity in all of India – a population of 1.3 billion people. The government is trying to connect people fast. On the data center side only 3% of hyperscale companies have deployed in India. But the demand is huge. Demand is going to be 8-10 GW in the next 5-10 years. The challenge is how to sustainably deliver that to customers.”

“In India the government is asking industry to commit to using sustainable energy but the government is also making it easy for people to adopt. The cost of renewable energy in India is 30% cheaper compared to grid pricing… The problem is storage. You cannot store in 8 hours energy for 24 hours. The industry should work on storing energy at a low cost.”

David Wang, Infrastructure Architect at Alibaba: “Renewable energy on paper is great. From the end user standpoint there are challenges. Number one, government support at this stage is essential; you don’t get anywhere without it. Second is infrastructure. You can build your own solar farm but you need the infrastructure to support that. In China there is a lot of waste from renewable energy because there’s a lack of infrastructure to port energy generated from renewable sources into the grid [that’s the capacity/consumption issue Liu described]. So government and stakeholders have to work together.”

“In late March the Chinese government named data centers as one of seven pillars of a new infrastructure buildout plan. The growth potential for data centers in China is beyond imagination. So the timing of iMasons’ sustainability vision couldn’t be better. The large companies inside China and data center providers are now thinking about building more data centers. If we can get strategic thinking and sustainability initiatives baked into the plans we’ll see benefits for many years to come.”

“If we can get strategic thinking and sustainability initiatives baked into the plans we’ll see benefits for many years to come.” Click to tweet

Highlights from the #IMSustainability working session

As we did at the Americas Summit, we facilitated a working session where attendees provided feedback on our five proposed Sustainability Strategy initiatives. The feedback from this and our Americas and EMEA Summits will be combined with ideas already generated by the Sustainability Committee to develop an Action Plan. That Action Plan will be shared publicly during the Global UN Sustainability Summit in September 2020.

These are highlights from the APAC working session, which was facilitated by Dean Nelson and David Wang. For a comprehensive overview of each of the proposed initiatives, check out Our Sustainability Vision: Every Click Improves the Future.

Initiative 1

Unify Industry on Sustainability Vision and Actions

Recommendations from attendees included:

  • “I think it would be good if the action plan includes speaking with academia and policy makers to get buy-in and seek collaborations across borders.”
  • “Unify government goals with the industry. Carbon emission plans should be aligned to the industry requirements and output.”

Initiative 2

Make Renewable Energy Available Everywhere

Recommendations from attendees included:

  • “Some locales are ill-suited for wind power, and land is scarce for solar power. So we need to consider how these locales could still tap on renewables.”
  • “Can data center operators combine their demand to create a market for renewable energy? And can they ‘share’ the 2N backup capacity?”
  • “I think we would benefit from the likes of Boden Type DC One to experiment and to find better and more efficient ways of running compute even in warmer climates. For that we need to tap on both governments and researchers to innovate and find new ways of designing and running compute.”

Initiative 3

Define Sustainable Data Center Framework

Recommendations from attendees included:

  • David Wang shared his thoughts, “We need a paradigm shift. Sustainability has to come before the drawings are made.”
  • Attendees recommended looking at Australia’s NABERS ratings and the European Data Center Association. But one attendee cautioned, “We need to look at what best suits Asia given the climate constraints and issues with humidity.”

Initiative 4

Drive Sustainability Through Procurement

Recommendations from attendees included:

  • “[It would be great] if we could have a repository of RFP documents and a playbook (granted it would not suit all possible scenarios).”
  • “Procurement should be given a mandate not to always go for the cheapest but consider the bigger value and total cost of ownership.”

Initiative 5

Achieve Radical Efficiency Through Innovation

Recommendations from attendees included:

  • “What are other industries doing that is actually working? No matter how unrelated or insignificant it may seem, if we can see results elsewhere it is worth exploring and applying to our industry. Let’s forget everything we know and start an idea from scratch.”
  • “Chemists have successfully produced fuels using water, carbon dioxide and visible light through artificial photosynthesis. By converting carbon dioxide into more complex molecules like propane, green energy technology is now one step closer to using excess carbon dioxide to store solar energy – in the form of chemical bonds – for use when the sun is not shining and in times of peak demand.” To that idea Dean Nelson responded, “These are the things we need to think about. Mimic nature. A totally different way to look at energy storage. That’s the radical innovation we need.”

What Have We Missed?

After discussing the five proposed initiatives, Summit attendees were asked to comment on what was missing. Comments included:

  • David Wang shared his perspective, “You can’t get efficiency initiatives moving forward unless you address the risk issue. The best approach is if you can address both simultaneously. To that end, The Green Gauge China (TGGC) developed an Infrastructure Usage Effectiveness metric, aimed at solving the issues we encounter in our daily lives.”
  • “Is there a way we can improve the subsea cable connectivity and domestic fibre connectivity so fewer data centres are needed to crunch the same volume of compute?”
  • “If we could put data centres on water and underwater, perhaps there are many other possible ways to do data centres that could achieve efficiencies.”

“We need a paradigm shift. Sustainability has to come before the drawings are made.” Click to tweet

Get involved

Having hosted virtual summits for our Americas and APAC members, we’re hosting one more for EMEA. The Global Member Summit EMEA – Virtual Event will be held on May 28. (The meeting times are set to best serve the members in that region, but all members are welcome to attend any and all Summits.)

If you’re interested in participating – either providing your feedback during an upcoming Summit or as a member of the Sustainability Committee – you can do so via the new iMasons app. (If you don’t yet have the app, learn about it here. It’s free for all members.)

Learn more

Check out these blog posts for insights from the Spring 2020 Advisory Council meeting and Americas Global Member Summit:

Contact us

Please complete this form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.