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Increasing sustainability in the data center industry

Thu 30 Mar 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Our Corporate Sustainability program at Equinix is relatively young, but it has already generated a number of headline events, including our multi-million dollar deal to purchase new wind power to cover our U.S. data center portfolio and our long-term pledge to use only clean and renewable energy.

These big milestones are powered by an ongoing, consistent commitment to making steady and measurable progress.

The past few months at Equinix have generated a number of important everyday wins. We’ve gotten industry recognition and increased our level of transparency, all while advancing towards our goal to reach 100% clean and renewable energy use across our global platform.

We’re “Clicking Clean”-er

Greenpeace’s annual “Clicking Clean” report on the green energy practices of internet companies had good news for Equinix, as we finished as the seventh-best performer among all companies globally and earned an improved “B” grade.

Greenpeace commended us for our transparency and advocacy for greater renewables use within the industry, and for being the first major colocation provider to commit to 100% clean and renewable energy use globally.

Equinix Corporate Sustainability Report debuts

A few months back, we published our first-ever Corporate Sustainability Report in an effort to increase our transparency and highlight the strengths of our program. It also gave us a chance to discuss our approach to advancing our business while also advancing our sustainable practices and ensuring that we operate as a responsible company.

This Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)-aligned report, the first of its kind by any colocation company, focused on progress in our four key pillars of corporate sustainability: 1) Environment; 2) People; 3) Governance; and 4) Community. We look forward to releasing our second report this summer.

We won NAREIT’s 2016 “Leader in the Light Award”

The year 2016 saw Equinix take home the National Association of REITs (NAREIT) annual “Leader in the Light Award” in the data center category. The awards recognize NAREIT corporate members for leadership and innovation in sustainability.

A NAREIT official said the 2016 award winners “showed proof of the short- and long-term business benefits of portfolio-wide sustainability initiatives while committing to the environment.”

In an interview after the award announcement, Dave Rinard, our senior director of global sustainability, said the market is pressuring our customers to operate sustainability, and that puts a premium on sustainability for Equinix, because we’re part of their supply chains. “We take that role very seriously for all of our stakeholders,” he said.

Turbines begin spinning in Rush Springs and at Wake wind farms

Equinix’s commitment to buy power produced by the Rush Springs Wind Energy Center in Oklahoma and the Wake Wind Energy Center in Texas gave these projects major financial boosts.

Now, both projects are operating (as of late last year), and we’ve taken a major step toward our goal of 100% clean and renewable energy use globally. At Rush Springs, Equinix purchased half of the 250-megawatt, 119-turbine wind farm’s capacity for its first 15 years of operation. At Wake Wind, Equinix added another 100 megawatts of West Texas wind to its portfolio.

The combined output of these two projects and the purchase of renewable energy credits put us on track to report an improvement from 8% renewable in the U.S. in 2015 to 43% renewable in the U.S. at the end of 2016, pending our final audit. With our wind turbines spinning for a full year and our continued work to keep 100% coverage across EMEA, we’re on track to be 50% renewable worldwide by the end of 2017.

That would meet an interim goal we publicly committed to as part of the RE100, a global collaborative of businesses that have pledged to be 100% renewable.

We’re increasing advocacy and thought leadership

We want to do all we can to help other companies get on our same path to long-term sustainability. In recent months, our own Bruce Frandsen, senior global utilities manager, has shared his expertise on procuring electricity from clean and renewable sources in a variety of forums. Among them:

A Business Renewables Center (BRC) bootcamp on using utility-scale virtual Power Purchase Agreements (vPPAs) to meet clean/renewable energy goals.

A panel session at a Corporate Renewables Conference on the risk management aspects of executing utility scale vPPAs. Breakout groups at the latest Renewable Energy Buyer’s (REBA) Alliance event.

Whether through big milestones or everyday successes, Equinix is dedicated to expanding our sustainability practices and increasing our renewable energy portfolio. 

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