Hosting/Colocation Innovation of the Year
In February 2019 Iron Mountain Data Centers (IMDC) launched Green Power Pass, a transparent solution for companies seeking to report greenhouse gas or CO2 reductions. It is the first solution of its kind in the data centre industry and IMDC believes it will show the way for other operators and have a significant positive environmental impact, as measurable sustainability becomes a core business concern for all end users.
IMDC has some of the most energy-efficient facilities in the industry, and its flagship EMEA facility, AMS-1, was the first 100% renewable data center in the Netherlands. Built on the new carbon reporting protocol released by the Future of Internet Power (FoIP) working group and IMDC’s 100 percent renewable-powered colocation offering, Green Power Pass covers power consumed at every Iron Mountain data centre around the globe. Reporting is standardised, easy and fast, delivering peace of mind for organisations looking to achieve their sustainability commitments through an annual certificate of attestation validating that 100 percent of the power they use at Iron Mountain is from qualifying renewable resources.
The solution is more than simply a reporting breakthrough, it is designed to have a positive environmental impact. GPP opens the door for thousands of companies to have access to renewable energy for their data centre footprint. And it is structured in such a way that other data center providers can easily copy and paste the new process. More customer access means more green power demand – and that will lead to a greener grid for everyone.
The Birth of GPP: Breaking Through Barriers
GPP overcomes a significant barrier for customers and partners. Until now colocation users wishing to use and report on renewable energy have been faced with a formidable barrier. The WRI GHG protocol is the accepted standard for accounting and reporting a company’s carbon footprint. But lack of a consistent data centre industry practice for reporting the direct vs indirect impacts of data centre energy use has created concern with the WRI protocol process over the potential for double accounting of the GHG reductions. This meant that there was no accepted way for customers to report any benefits. Barred from counting the GHG reduction benefits of the colocation owner’s contracts, the only solution for customers was to purchase separate off-set or REC purchases to “green” their colocation footprint. This adds complexity and cost for customers and partners. It also prevents colocation customers from expressing their desire for green energy solutions – a move that would empower colocation owners to aggregate demand and drive market change.
The Future of Internet Power (FoIP) (which became an initiative from the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA)) recognised this problem and brought together a powerful collection of the biggest colocation customers, suppliers and other stakeholders, including Iron Mountain. During a two-year process, this group worked together to build an industry best practice and consensus to solve the problem. Convened by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), the industry and non-profit collaboration published a “best practice” protocol for data centre customers to report the benefits of green power contracted by data centre owners.
In a white paper published in October 2018, FoIP defined how colocation providers can procure and deliver renewable power to their data centres in order to enable the recognised transfer of green power benefits to their customers.
Breakthrough one: It recommended that data centre owners define the electricity used for common functions (the PUE) as their scope 2 and define their tenants’ IT load as scope 3.Colocation tenants should report the opposite – IT load as their scope 2 and the PUE as their scope 3. In this way, the renewable energy delivered to “green” the building can be counted by both parties without any concerns about double counting.
The second breakthrough in the FoIP white paper was an agreement on the details of an audited Letter of Attestation that documents the electricity supply and provides the customer (and their auditor) with assurance of a solid chain-of-custody and audit trail for the renewable contracts they are making claims against. Together, these elements make the FoIP white paper an industry breakthrough and are enabling a sea change in the market.
GPP was made possible by these industry initiatives. IMDC’s 100 percent renewable energy colocation offering made it straightforward to design and launch an industry-endorsed, transparent solution for companies seeking to report greenhouse gas or CO2 reductions associated with the green power they consume.
How it Works
GPP is straightforward and quick to implement. GPP customers receive an annual certificate of attestation validating that 100 percent of the green power they use at Iron Mountain is acceptable in their reporting. In addition, every GPP customer receives a detailed report on their power consumption and full documentation on the amount, source, and chain-of-custody of the wind, solar or other renewable electricity that Iron Mountain data centres is using to offset the power consumed at that location. GPP includes signage and logos that Iron Mountain customers can use to show what they have done. GPP attestations are performed once a year and include the prior year’s energy consumption.
GPP directly affects over 100 million Kilowatt Hours of electricity consumption. More effective coordination and streamlining of carbon reporting in the data centre will also lead to millions of dollars in savings for colocation customers. IMDC research suggests that, with the widespread availability of renewable power in the data centre industry, many businesses are currently paying large amounts to buy carbon offsets which they simply do not need. Signing up for a GPP-type solution immediately eliminates this unnecessary cost as well as saving on CSR administration.
"Iron Mountain's Green Power Pass is an exciting breakthrough for the data centre industry, and a wonderful demonstration of the power of collaboration between industry and NGOs. By being the first solution to come to market that uses the Future of Internet Power's Requirements for Supplier-Procured Renewable Energy, Iron Mountain is showing the way for data centre customers to easily access the benefits of green electricity. Now all colocation and cloud customers of any size can be part of the movement to increase demand and help realize the goal of an internet powered by 100 percent renewable energy."
Miranda Ballentine CEO, REBA (Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance).
Open Source Innovation
GPP is a genuinely open source solution with no barriers to entry and simple cut and paste process. In fact the GPP development team has already publicly stated that Iron Mountain will measure the success of the solution by the number of successful launches by competitors of similar products.
Feedback from Pilot Customers.
Take-up and Feedback
GPP take-up through 2020 was strong in both Europe and North America. It has been highly reliant on the support of pilot customers including Akamai, Arizona State University, The Boeing Company, Boston Medical Centre, Credit Suisse, Patagonia, Goldman Sachs and WeWork.
Here is some of their feedback:
"Akamai believes that operating our business with a small environmental footprint is fundamental to unlocking the potential of the internet and an essential value for our customers and the communities in which we operate. We are pleased to be a launch partner of Iron Mountain's Green Power Pass allowing us to deliver services to our customers in a sustainable and socially responsible way through 100% renewable power."
Dr. Robert Blumofe, EVP Platform & General Manager, Enterprise Division, Akamai
"This agreement with Iron Mountain's Green Power Pass program will offset the same amount of electricity that 4,100 homes would use in a year, with clean, renewable energy. Becoming an early adopter of carbon emission reduction initiatives will help Boeing progress toward our 2025 environmental goals and help our efforts to reduce 25 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions at our work sites."
Beth Schryer, Vice President, Boeing Facilities & Asset Management.
“We are pleased to partner with Iron Mountain and believe their strategy provides sustainable enhancements to our data center operations. Their innovative technology and services will allow Goldman Sachs to scale its data center operations more efficiently, and further advance the firm’s broader commitment to environmental stewardship and reduced carbon footprint.”
Global Co-COO Tech Division, Goldman Sachs