environment

design and innovate for the environment

Equinix holds high operational standards for the design of our data centers and prioritizes ongoing investment to continually raise the bar on our performance. Our primary mandate is to ensure reliable digital infrastructure for our customers, but now, more than ever, we must do this sustainably.

Equinix is in a unique position to help our customers “green” their supply chains. Our customers want to work with suppliers who can help them meet their own sustainability targets. Leveraging our over 200 data centers, we are able to use our scale to deliver global results to improve our environmental impact. We are also pioneering cutting edge innovations in our sites that will benefit all of our customers, reduce the consumption of all resources, and enhance our resiliency for the future.

We are committed to:

  • Allocating funds to deliver sustainable outcomes across our business; our green bonds will propel our investments in greening our footprint
  • Designing, building and operating sustainable data centers planned holistically to reduce our consumption of all resources
  • Leveraging technology and innovation to encourage commercialization of solutions that will enable the “Data Center of the Future”
  • Building and maintaining healthy and sustainable office settings for our employees
  • Advocating and supporting increased governance of environmental sustainability within Equinix and across our industry

“Issuing our inaugural green bonds demonstrates Equinix’s continued long-term commitment to green our data center footprint, delivering wide-reaching environmental benefits for not only ourselves and our communities but also our global customers.”

– Keith Taylor, Chief Financial Officer, Equinix

Green Bonds

Expanding Equinix’s Commitment to Sustainability

As part of our ongoing commitment towards sustainability, we have issued nearly $3 billion in green bonds since FY20. Our Green Finance Framework, based on the Green Bond Principles 2018 and the Green Loan Principles 2020, is a voluntary set of guidelines promoting transparency, integrity and advancement of the standardization of disclosures in the development of green debt. A Second-Party Opinion on the environmental benefits of Equinix’s Green Finance Framework and alignment with the Green Bond Principles has been issued by Sustainalytics, a leading global provider of ESG research, ratings and data.

As we expand our global sustainability initiatives in support of our mission to design, build and operate a more sustainable digital world, these investments will help to propel our programs across multiple areas of innovation including green buildings, renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste reduction and clean transportation.

Equinix’s green bonds are as follows:

Green Buildings

Equinix data centers are designed with high operational standards and energy efficiency in mind. Our data centers areplanned holistically to incorporate the needs of our communities and we aim to minimize the use of all resources in our operations.

Thoughtful and intentional design of space is a key aspect to our strategy. We are adopting a new design globally that provides for modular construction, standardized mechanical and electrical engineering, higher-efficiency procured installations and reduced space redundancy. This new data center model incorporates lessons we have learned through the years, making it one of our most sustainable designs. While we aim to go beyond our design standards, we also use certifications as another indicator of our performance. For example, we are collaborating with a partner on a new LEED scorecard to help optimize our designs moving forward.

Green Certifications and Management System Standards
LEED accreditation or equivalent green building standards are Equinix’s policy for all new construction. And throughout the world, especially in Europe, we are implementing energy and environmental management systems to robustly manage the impact of our operations.

Data centers receiving green certifications in 2019 and 2020 totaled 1.3 million gross sq. ft. The following new sites received ratings in 2019 or 2020. Additional sites and phases are pending final submissions.

Data CenterMetro AreaRating SchemeLevel Achieved
DC15 Phase 1Ashburn, VirginiaGreen GlobesThree Globes
HK4 Phase 2Hong KongLEEDSilver
ME2 Phase 1Melbourne, AustraliaLEEDGold
SG4 Phase 1SingaporeBCA Green MarkGoldPlus
SH6 Partner SiteShanghai, ChinaLEEDPlatinum
SY5 Phase 1Sydney, AustraliaLEEDSilver
TY11 Phase 1Tokyo, JapanLEEDSilver

Equinix is working to align the certification of facilities to our regional ISO Environmental and Energy standards. Equinix EMEA complies with ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Standard, which addresses waste, energy, and water, as well as ISO 50001:2018 Energy Management Standard.

Equinix also participates in the EU Code of Conduct on Data Centre Energy Efficiency – an initiative led by the European Union’s Joint Research Center. Thirty-five of Equinix’s EMEA data centers report Utility and IT kWh per the requirements, establishing Equinix as a Corporate Participant of the center. Equinix is working to increase this reporting participation in EMEA with additional sites in process.

RegionTotal Gross sq. ft. (million)Area of Eligible Portfolio with Green Building Rating (million sq. ft.)Eligible Portfolio with Green Building Rating (%)
Americas12.55.342%
Asia-Pacific5.85.087%
EMEA7.47.499%
Global25.717.769%

Embodied Carbon

We are initiating work to incorporate embodied carbon into our design decision-making. Through quantification of the carbon embedded in our core, shell and roof materials, we intend to determine baseline metrics to understand the potential to reduce the carbon embedded in these materials. Among our materials, structural steel and concrete will be critical to reducing the embodied carbon of our buildings.

We completed three whole-building lifecycle analyses (WBLCAs) of embodied carbon in core, shell and roof materials at three newly completed U.S. data centers (DC15, DA11 and SV11). We leveraged OneClick LCA software. Our analyses met the requirements for one point of LEEDv4.1 MR Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction, Option 4 Whole Building Life Cycle Analysis.

We intend to replicate this effort in Europe, recognizing that significant regional differences exist between the amount of carbon embedded in similar materials with different geographic origins.

Examples of data input into OneClick LCA:

Foundations and Substructure
Foundation, sub-surface, basement and retaining walls
Vertical Structures and Facade
External walls and façade (including precast concrete panels, metal stud framing, insulation)
Vertical Structures and Facade
Columns and load-bearing vertical structures (including structural steel columns, wall studs, brace frames and beams)
Horizontal Structures: Beams, Floors and Roofs
Floor slabs, ceilings, roofing decks, beams and roof
Other Structures and Materials
Stairs, windows, doors

Community Focused Design

Siting and integration within the urban planning of communities is a growing concern for the data center industry. Equinix believes that our operations can positively impact the communities in which we are located. Across Europe, we export waste heat to serve residential areas and we are looking to incorporate new uses of heat into our new campus designs. We want to incorporate concepts around community heat integration, power integration and eventually hydrogen integration into our designs.

Sustainable Innovations

We are taking a global approach when it comes to operating and designing our sites. We are leveraging technology and innovation to encourage commercialization of solutions that will enable the “Data Center of the Future,” while at the same time ensuring that we take advantage of existing data center best practices that we can implement today.

We have deployed numerous strategies to achieve higher efficiencies. These include business-as-usual improvements, as well as implementing newer technologies and opportunistic approaches that we can test and deploy more broadly based on site or regional specific needs.

Business-as-Usual Improvements

ENERGY-EFFICIENT LIGHTINGASHRAE THERMAL GUIDELINESCOLD / HOT AISLE CONTAINMENTHIGH TEMPERATURE CHILLED WATER SET POINTS
Utilizes motion-activated controls and/or LEDs to reduce energy consumption and ambient heat from operating lights.Reduce power consumption for cooling, while maintaining a safe operating temperature for computing equipment; moving from A1 recommended to A1 allowable.Lowers energy consumption and enables more efficient cooling by using physical barriers to reduce mixing cold air in data center supply aisles with the hot air in exhaust aisles.
Improve our design and operational PUEs by raising the chilled water temperature to save energy.

Newer Technologies and Opportunistic Improvements

DCIM AND ADAPTIVE CONTROL SYSTEMSMACHINE LEARNING AND AIFUEL CELLS
Reduce power consumption and increase cooling capacity through active airflow management using intelligent, distributed sensors and innovative control policies.Leveraged to identify new energy efficiency improvements in our data centers.Offer performance/quality, reliability and resilience placing power near where it is consumed.
HEAT RECOVERNATURAL REFRIGERANTSAQUIFER THERMAL ENERGY STORAGE (ATES)
Recycles waste heat that can be shared with local communities (offices, schools etc.). This reduces CO2 emissions and other harmful gases.Leverage natural alternatives to hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) that do not deplete the ozone layer and have a lower environmental impact.Use cold groundwater to cool equipment during winter months, eliminating the need for traditional mechanical cooling within the data center or decreasing the water usage for adiabatic cooling installations.
STATEPOINT LIQUID COOLINGGRANULAR COOLING CONTROLHIGH-DENSITY COOLING
Replace conventional evaporative cooling technologies for improved water efficiency and improved use of sustainable water sources.Deploy an array of sensors to allow for tailored energy use to cool customer equipment, reducing unneeded consumption.Improve mechanical efficiency through direct liquid cooling.

Data Center of the Future

At Equinix, we believe the data center of the future will be characterized by:

  • Reliability
  • Efficiency
  • Efficient cost to build
  • Sustainability
  • Enhanced data center life

In 2020, we announced a new Co-Innovation Facility (CIF) in Ashburn, Virginia to demonstrate advanced power, cooling and control methodologies for use in our future data centers. We will pilot concepts such as:

Resilience through Fuel Cells

Generator-less data centers are quickly becoming top-of-mind for operators who want to lead in sustainability. Equinix is deploying fuel cells at our IBXs to place electricity generation near our energy consumption, enabling maximum efficiency, removing transmission losses and increasing resiliency by taking load off the grid. Power from fuel cells is generated through electrochemical reactions and is 20% to 45% cleaner than the equivalent natural gas-powered generation from a utility. Fuel cells produce significantly fewer particulate emissions than traditional gas-fueled power plants and consume no water for operation.

In 2020, Equinix deployed the second phase of our fuel cell power purchase agreements (PPAs), bringing us to a total of 41 megawatts (MW) of fuel cells installed across 15 locations to generate cleaner, reliable electricity on-site. We will complete our contracted installations in Boston, New York and Silicon Valley to achieve a total 46.45 MW by the end of 2022.

Moving forward, we expect to increase our deployments of fuel cells, taking pressure off the already stressed electricity grid. Because fuel cells provide “always-on” 24/7 baseload power, they are complementary to the electricity grid and suited for balancing and reducing the use of coal and gas. This blended approach helps to offset overall grid emissions and provides Equinix energy security by reducing reliance on the power grid. Future design strategy may include supporting full data center loads with fuel cells and energy storage, while relying on the grid as backup and removing onsite diesel generators. In addition, we are considering the role hydrogen may play on our future energy strategy and how fuel cells may be complementary to Equinix taking advantage of the nascent green hydrogen economy.

Technology that Saves Water while Serving the Community
The aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) system at Equinix’s Amsterdam data centers (AM3, 4, 5 and 6) maximizes the use of cold outside air and groundwater as a cooling agent to help chill the air on the colocation floor, eliminating the need for traditional mechanical cooling. This way of efficient heat rejection saves water, resulting in a Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) of less than one liter per kilowatt-hour (1L/kWh). Compared to traditional cooling towers, hybrid dry cooling can reduce the annual water consumption by up to 75%. Excess heat from the AM3 data center is also used to heat the office building and nearby buildings of the University of Amsterdam.

Resource Efficiency

There is increasing recognition that all companies must limit their consumption of natural resources. While energy usage is Equinix’s largest environmental impact, data centers use a significant amount of water for cooling. In addition, pressure to engage around circular economy concepts continues to drive conversations around waste and recycling.

Water

Equinix considers the consumption of water in the design and operation of our facilities and in the production of consumed by them. Water is an important component in efficient cooling systems— however, where supply is unreliable, or water dependence presents a business risk or significant adverse impact on the environment, dry methods of cooling are employed. To expand our options, we work with our industry partners to evaluate the development of advanced cooling technologies, both with and without water. We are also conducting water risk assessments to identify sites located in areas of water stress and are navigating different regulatory regimes to determine the technologies we should deploy.

Further, we seek to minimize the overall consumption of power in our facilities as power generation itself consumes vast amounts of water. As part of this strategy, we look at alternative onsite power generation methods such as fuel cells, which consume no water at all. Our 40 MW initial deployment of fuel cells announced in 2017 saves around 87 billion gallons of water per year.

Equinix is also active in researching or employing methods to minimize the impact of water consumption, such as using aquifers or natural bodies of water for heat rejection or using gray water to minimize the processing before consumption. We are launching our Sustainable Water Management Program in 2021. In this program will be establishing our water consumption baseline, measuring Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) and coordinating a global approach to water savings.

We are also reducing our use of water treatment chemicals. Equinix is implementing pilots of chemical-free and water-saving water treatment installations. When these pilots have a positive outcome, we will introduce these technologies worldwide.

Waste

As a focus area addressed through ISO14001, we have a responsibility to appropriately manage waste, including the disposal of hazardous waste and e-waste such as IT equipment that may be left behind by customers. As a part of ISO 14001 Equinix separates wastes and recycles materials across our IBXs, where applicable. As an emerging issue for our company, we view this as a unique opportunity to develop a baseline understanding of our impacts as well as communicate sustainability best practices to our customers, who own and operate the IT infrastructure within our data centers.

To facilitate this, we developed a global waste policy in 2020 that defines our key commitments, with consideration of the regional differences in how waste is handled. As part of our EU Climate Neutral Data Centre Operator Pact alignment, we will work with peers across the industry to maximize recycling of servers, electric equipment and other related electrical components. Increasing waste diversion and considering zero-waste concepts and policies are a growing concern for Equinix.

Biodiversity and Deforestation

In line with our commitment to do what it takes to protect the planet, Equinix is committed to preserving ecosystems, including biodiversity and natural vegetation, proximate to our IBXs. Equinix seeks to maintain the biodiversity of the areas in which we operate and assess biodiversity risks during the IBX siting process. Equinix further seeks to avoid development in close proximity to protected species as necessary.  Although most of Equinix’s IBXs are in urban areas, Equinix also seeks to avoid deforestation in the IBX construction processes and conducts reforestation, as required. When building its data center sites Equinix complies with all local and regional regulations around biodiversity and land use.  

Energy Efficiency

Learn more about energy efficiency at Equinix