Circular Economy for Datacenters
Datacenters of all sizes can accelerate their progress towards sustainability by taking a more holistic look at the way they use resources. The Circular Economy concept asks us to redefine waste as a resource for another process, perhaps as input in the same system that created them. In the data center industry this could be challenging, because while data centers consume large amounts of electricity, they use little physical material. Furthermore, the materials that are output is mostly used IT gear, which is complex and expensive to reuse.
In this document, the Infrastructure Masons’ Sustainability Committee has outlined several strategies on how data center designers and operators can reduce the negative effects of the industry. The combination of designing data centers, operating them, and planning the asset lifecycle with a vision for resource circularity opens vast opportunities for improvement. The strategies in this document includes using waste heat, building data centers with new materials such as timber, and managing equipment life cycles to reduce the amount of new materials manufactured.
The document also outlines potential next steps for the organization that would like become more sustainable, such as including the circular economy principles in designs or purchases, considering equipment suppliers that design with extended life cycles, as well as to count on the actual costs for being more sustainable; there is often a business case to be made for going green.