Schneider Electric demonstrates outstanding contribution to sustainability and efficiency with the launch of the industry’s first framework for environmentally sustainable data centres
Schneider Electric
Outstanding Contribution to Sustainability and Efficiency Award
Entry Description
Sustainability and efficiency have long been central to the ethos at Schneider Electric, whose dedication to Net Zero, sustainable business practices and creating industry-leading, circular technologies is unmatched within the data centre and energy management sectors.

Named as Corporate Knights’ ‘Most Sustainable Corporation in the World’ in 2021 and long-known as the world-leader leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, the organisation continues to help customers to deploy energy efficient mission-critical infrastructure and adopt sustainable business strategies that minimise the impact of carbon emissions on the environment.

As such, its commitments to Net Zero include:
• Accelerating its 2030 goal of carbon neutrality in its extended ecosystem by five years to 2025;
• Removing gas and ensuring the end of SF6 by the end of 2025;
• Reaching net-zero operational emissions by 2030 as part of validated SBT target;
• Achieving a net-zero supply chain by 2050.

The company has also pledged to help customers save or avoid 800M tonnes of carbon emissions by 2025, and in 2021 alone its EcoStruxure™ solutions helped customers reduce their carbon emissions by 84 million tonnes. Furthermore, since publicly making this commitment in 2018, Schneider Electric has helped customers save 347 million tonnes of carbon emissions to-date and is well on track to exceed its current target.

The data centre market
The last two years have seen an unprecedented growth for data centre capacity, propelled by the accelerated digital transformation efforts of the Covid-19 pandemic, increased connectivity demands, and the growth of hyperscale data centres globally.

According to CBRE’s European Data Centres MarketView Q4 2021, data centre take-up nearly doubled in 2021 to 380MW, primarily due to strong demand from the hyperscale communities. Nearly 400MW of new data centre supply came online last year, and another 356MW of supply is expected to come online across the Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris FLAP markets in 2022, despite continued challenging conditions.

These numbers further demonstrate significant growth within the data centre sector, and its foundational role in the global digital economy. However, industry analysts suggest that data centres represent 1-2% of global electricity consumption, and emit the same level of carbon as the airline sector.

To counter this, sustainability has become a prevalent topic within the data centre industry and is now a key point of decision-making for customers. In a survey of more than 800 global operators, for example, Schneider Electric and 451 Research found that 97% of providers’ customers are asking for contractual sustainability commitments, and that customers’ requirements are the top drivers for sustainability, (50%).

With this in mind, it’s crucial that the industry continues to take steps towards reducing its environmental impact and considers its role in addressing the global climate challenge. Management and measurement, alongside the provision of renewable power and use energy efficient technologies are all essential to this process, but what’s clear is that the industry needs greater focus, alignment and a standardised approach to measuring the carbon impact of data centres. In fact, with the impacts of climate change becoming more prominent each year, there has never been a more crucial time for data centre businesses to align and accelerate their commitments to Net Zero.

Industry’s first framework to drive data centre sustainability
In December 2021 Schneider Electric released the industry’s first comprehensive novel framework for environmentally sustainable data centres – directly helping to address the key challenge of measuring sustainability within the sector. The framework proposes five key metrics of environmental impact, including Energy use, GHG emissions, Water, Waste, Land and biodiversity, against which data centre operators can measure their efforts to achieve truly sustainable operations.

Available free to data centre stakeholders globally, this first-of-a-kind Sustainability Framework, detailed in Schneider Electric White Paper #67, ‘Guide to Environmental Sustainability Metrics for Data Centres’, allows for the detailed tracking and reporting of standardised, measurable sustainability metrics. Created by a team of environmental, social and governance (ESG) experts, sustainability consultants, data centre scientists and solution architects, the framework supports operators who are at the Beginning, Advanced or Leading stages of their sustainability journey to reduce their environmental impact.

As such, it includes 23 key metrics for standardised reporting and identifies the 17 most relevant sustainability frameworks to guide operators in both setting measurable targets and reporting them. Furthermore, use of the widely acclaimed framework removes the challenge of selecting impactful metrics for tracking, improves internal communication and empowers effective action on sustainability objectives. In turn, helping to make businesses more effective in achieving company-wide sustainability targets, and increasing transparency for external stakeholders such as customers and regulators.

Pankaj Sharma, Executive Vice President, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric, said: “Environmental sustainability reporting is a growing focus for many data centre operators. Yet, the industry lacks a standardised approach for implementing, measuring, and reporting on environmental impact. Schneider Electric developed a holistic framework with standardised metrics to guide operators and the industry at large. Our intention with this framework is to improve benchmarking and progress toward environmental sustainability to protect natural resources for future generations.”

“The data centre industry has made significant progress in increasing energy efficiency; however, as digital demands increase, they must remain committed to driving long-term broader sustainability initiatives,” said Rob Brothers, Program Vice President for the Data Centre and Support Services Program at IDC. You can’t have an impact on what you don’t measure; therefore, companies must establish clear and consistent metrics that account for not only efficient technology, but also the consumption (or possible destruction) of natural resources such as water, land and biodiversity.”

Why should Schneider Electric win?
Data centres are built into the very fabric of our digital lives and remain the heart of the global economy. As the demands for digital infrastructure, connectivity and data increase, Schneider Electric continues to lead the industry by example; demonstrating how through collaboration, transparency and an actionable, standardised and measurable approach, our industry can make great strides in reducing its environmental impact.

By creating the industry’s first freely available and comprehensive novel framework for environmentally sustainable data centres, Schneider Electric is demonstrating an outstanding commitment to sustainability and efficiency, going above and beyond to empower the sector, and help the industry build the Net Zero data centres of the future.
Supporting Documents