[VIDEO] Data Centers and Sustainability: How Carbon Neutral and Net Zero Carbon Are Being Applied14 min read

by | Sep 22, 2021 | Blog

When we last talked about carbon neutral and net zero carbon, we discussed the differences between the two terms in a general sense. As a refresher, carbon neutral on one hand is all about balancing greenhouse gas emissions by offsetting or removing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere to those you’ve produced. Net zero carbon on the other hand requires an actual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. So how are these being applied in the data center and cloud industry? Or better yet, how should they be applied?

We hear a lot about net zero carbon from some of the big names in the industry, but are they really talking about net zero carbon, or just carbon neutral? Furthermore, the jury is still out on whether these announcements are merely marketing responses to the notion that our industry should be doing more in this area, responses to the threat of regulation/legislation, or genuine steps forward.

In all fairness, many of the elements required for genuine net zero carbon may be beyond the control of data center operators. Some elements are, such as re-using waste heat and the performance of the IT load, but in reality, the industry as a whole needs to be far more joined up. We need to look at data center sustainability as more than just a building, but also include the carbon that is produced throughout the entire supply chain, from IT manufacturing to building construction materials. This is referred to as embodied carbon, and should also be included in the conversation of net zero carbon.

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