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The Rush for Green Data: Navigating Sustainability in North American Data Centers

Posted 15/05/2024 by Howard Fawcett & Brendan Cuddihy

Data Centers Green

The North American data center market remains dynamic and rapidly evolving, driven by increasing demand for AI, cloud and edge computing services. The expected growth is around 16% CAGR from 2023 to 2028. Aside from supply chain and land availability challenges, decarbonization and energy efficiency are top priorities for investors in terms of aligning these popular and resilient assets with wider objectives of sustainable investing.

Infrata and COWI are seeing the intersection of a rapidly growing carbon-heavy asset class with evolutions in technology, ESG strategy, and sustainable design that present opportunities for accelerated innovation. Advanced cooling and dynamic power optimization are perhaps the most talked about technological advancements in terms of their potential to bring down PUE. However, opportunities for sourcing and producing renewable energy, recycling water, and implementing modular design to reduce construction waste are just some of the other measures offering valuable offsets to the potential ESG impact of these assets.

The North American market could address some of the challenges through emulating operators in Europe in particular. Developers in Norway have offset their impacts by successfully retrofitting an operational facility to provide 3.5MW of excess heat into the Oslo heating system per annum. Facebook built the world’s first “green” data center in Luleå, Sweden which benefits from cold temperatures and nearby hydroelectric dam as a source of clean power.

However, no two sites are not the same and not all will provide ideal conditions for the reuse of heat and affordable renewable energy. That is why it’s important that investors understand the opportunities for improving sustainability in new build and existing DCs through a complete review of potential ESG impacts.

Contact us to learn more about our proprietary ESG assessment tool, GAIA, which can be used to perform such analysis.