Equinix has prioritized investment in designing efficient data centers that ensure reliability, resilience and sustainability of our portfolio. Collaborative, ambitious Equinix teams engage our suppliers, customers and other partners to pioneer innovations that will deliver for our business and the broader industry.
We are committed to:
Equinix data centers are thoughtfully designed with high operational standards and resource efficiency in mind, while also incorporating the needs of our communities. In 2020, we adopted a new evolution of our global reference design. This incorporates higher efficiency mechanical and electrical infrastructure, allows for modular construction, has improved space efficiency reducing embodied carbon and is preconfigured to allow integration with community power and heating schemes. These measures, along with the lessons we have learned through the years, provide the platform for our new build data centers to be our most sustainable designs. While we aim to go beyond our design standards, we also use certifications and international management system and compliance standards as another indicator of our performance.
Green Buildings Certifications
In 2021, Equinix became a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Gold member, aligning with the developer of the LEED rating system and the furthering our commitment to green buildings. To increase the scalability of certification within our portfolio, we developed a global LEED Scorecard that will help us ensure every new build is prioritizing the design and community guidelines developed by USGBC.
Green Buildings Commitment
Equinix is committed to achieving LEED certification or an equivalent green building standard for all new construction, as outlined in our policies. Obtaining LEED Gold or Platinum Certification is also an Eligible Green Project under our Green Finance Framework, further incentivizing these efforts.
Data centers receiving green certifications in 2020 and 2021 totaled 1.1 million gross sq. ft. The following new sites received ratings in 2020 and 2021. Additional certifications are pending final submissions.
|Data Center||Metro Area||Rating Scheme||Level Achieved|
|DC15||Washington, DC||Green Globes||Three Globes|
|SG4||Singapore||BCA Green Mark
BCA Green Mark
|SV11||Silicon Valley, California||LEED||Gold|
Compliance and Management System Standards
We are also implementing global energy and environmental management systems to robustly manage the impact of our operations. Equinix is working to align the certification of facilities to our regional ISO Environmental and Energy standards with the goal of globalizing standards in the next 1 to 3 years. We are also undertaking a planned expansion of our 14001 and 50001 certifications. Existing sites in EMEA are 100% compliant with ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Standard, which addresses waste, energy, and water, as well as ISO 50001:2018 Energy Management Standard. Certification is also immediately pursued for any new sites coming online.
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. The initiative aims to increase awareness toward an end goal of increasing energy efficiency in data centers. 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, while at the same time working towards EU alignment on a sustainable data center framework as outlined by the EU Climate-Neutral Data Centre Operator Pact and Self-Regulatory Framework. Drafts of the EU Sustainability Finance Taxonomy are available to the sector as of this publication; and Equinix seeks to maximize its alignment with the aims of the European Union towards climate change mitigation and adaption.
|Region||Total Gross sq. ft.
|Area of Eligible Portfolio
with LEED Certification
(million sq. ft.)
|Eligible Portfolio with
LEED Certification (%)
The embodied carbon of our data centers includes the GHG emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation, and installation of all components of the buildings. Understanding and reducing the embodied carbon of our data centers will play a critical role on the path to a net-zero future as it represents a large portion of our Scope 3 emissions. To start, we are quantifying baseline metrics to understand the potential to reduce the carbon embedded in our core, shell and roof materials. Some of our near-term initiatives include conducting more whole-building lifecycle analyses (WBLCAs) for global projects, comparing the impacts of offsite prefabrication vs. onsite manufacturing for concrete components, and evaluating alternative low carbon materials.
With OneClick LCA software, we have completed five WBLCAs for data centers in the U.S. and multiple studies are currently underway for data centers in Europe and Asia-Pacific. We recognize that significant differences exist between the embodied carbon of similar materials sourced from different regions, and studying our projects around the world will help drive carbon-informed decision making. Leveraging the data obtained from these studies and initiatives, we will be able to integrate carbon considerations into the selection, procurement, and assembly method of our data center builds. In particular, the structural steel and concrete will be critical to reducing the total embodied carbon of our buildings.
Our analyses are aligned with LEEDv4.1 MR Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction, Option 4 Whole Building Life Cycle Analysis. Below are some 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|
Equinix is committed to preserving and, where possible, restoring ecosystems and biodiversity, including animal life, natural vegetation, habitat, pollinator function, and the ecological services that they provide, proximate to our IBXs. In seeking to maintain the biodiversity of the areas in which we operate, Equinix assesses biodiversity risks and necessary mitigation methods during the IBX site selection process. In addition to these assessments, Equinix further seeks to avoid development in close proximity to protected species as necessary. Although most Equinix IBX data centers are typically in urban areas, Equinix also seeks to address 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.
With a growing focus on biodiversity, we have made efforts to attract wildlife to urban areas and provide suitable habitats for vital species. Through Host in Ireland’s DCs for Bees initiatives, we have taken part in the planting of 1,200 orchards throughout 25 communities in Ireland. Each orchard, comprised of 250 mixed fruit trees, provides local pollinators with a stable food source and enhances the local community. We are also actively seeking ways to include biodiversity considerations in our building design, such as green roofs and facades. Through these efforts, we aim to maintain and enhance the biodiversity of our sites.
As part of its site selection processes, Equinix incorporates integration opportunities within communities to engage and benefit local residents. Across Europe, we export waste heat to serve residential areas and look to incorporate ways to maximize waste heat into our new campus designs. At our HE3 data center located in Helsinki, Finland, we feed 5.3 GWh of waste heat energy back to the local energy grid through a partnership with the local energy provider, helping reduce the carbon impact of the electricity consumed within the region. At other sites, HE4, HE5, HE6 and HE7, we are using locally provided district heat to warm our common areas and are in discussions to feed our excess data center heat back to the grid.
Beyond this, we are in continuous search of customers for the warm water generated from operations, and with the expansion of liquid cooling technologies, water temperatures will increase, offering higher efficiencies and expanding opportunities for use. Future goals include expanding on concepts around the integration of community heat, onsite power generation and eventually hydrogen solutions into our designs.
Approximately 30-50% of the energy consumed by our data centers is from the critical equipment we install. We address this impact by innovating toward more sustainable and higher density technologies to benefit Equinix, our customers and our planet. We want to encourage commercialization of solutions that will enable the “Data Center of the Future” while taking advantage of existing data center best practices that we can implement today. Our vision of the data center of the future will directly support rapidly evolving global regulatory changes towards goals like the EU’s vision for a carbon neutral digital supply chain in Europe by 2030.
Equinix continually explores and deploys numerous technologies to achieve higher efficiencies. These include business as usual improvements, alongside exploration of newer technologies and opportunistic improvements that, if successful, are implemented more broadly based on site or regional specific needs. A key theme of our approach includes open-source forums, which enables the access of new technologies and systems to others.
|COLD / HOT AISLE
CHILLED WATER SET POINTS
|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.||Utilizes motion-activated controls and/or LEDs to reduce energy consumption and ambient heat from operating lights.||Improve our design and operational PUEs by raising the chilled water temperature to save energy.|
|DCIM AND ADAPTIVE
|FUEL CELLS FOR
|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.||Reduce power consumption and increase cooling capacity through active airflow management using intelligent, distributed sensors and innovative control policies.||Offer performance/quality, reliability and resilience placing power near where it is consumed. Equinix is deploying hydrogen-ready fuel cells in a pilot in Italy in 2022-23.||Recycles waste heat that can be shared with local communities (offices, schools etc.) or contribute to the local energy grid. This reduces CO2 emissions and other harmful gases.|
|HIGH-DENSITY LIQUID COOLING||LONGER-DURATION BATTERY STORAGE||MACHINE
LEARNING AND AI
|Improve mechanical efficiency through direct liquid cooling.||Evaluating opportunity for energy storage and integration with other technologies toward more reliability and timely electrical grid support||Leveraged to identify new energy efficiency improvements in our data centers.||Leverage natural alternatives to hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) that do not deplete the ozone layer and have a lower environmental impact.|
In 2021, Equinix announced the opening of our first Co-Innovation Facility (CIF) located in our DC15 IBX data center at our Ashburn, Virginia campus, in the Washington D.C. area. The CIF is a component of our Data Center of the Future Initiative and is a new capability that enables innovative partners to work with Equinix on trialing and developing methodologies that will be used to help define the future of digital infrastructure and services.
The CIF will allow us to demonstrate advanced power, cooling, and control methodologies and is equipped with more than 400 air and liquid cooled CPUs across a broad cross section of suppliers and servers. The CIF focuses on bringing the Data Center of the Future vision to life, which Equinix believes will be characterized by:
Fuel cells are an important part of our commitment to cleaner energy. Power from fuel cells is generated through electrochemical reactions and is 20% to 35% cleaner than the marginal emissions rates for the regional grids where we have deployed the technology. Fuel cells produce significantly fewer particulate emissions than traditional gas-fueled power plants and consume no water for operation.
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, while also removing transmission losses and maximizing efficiency. Additionally, all of the fuel cell technologies we have deployed are designed to be capable of accepting up to a 50% hydrogen blend “as is”. This positions us well to be able to take advantage of the evolving hydrogen market into the future.
As of 2021, Equinix’s total deployment of fuel cell power purchase agreements (PPAs) reached 44 megawatts (MW) of fuel cells installed across 15 IBX locations. We are on track to complete our contracted installations in Boston, New York and Silicon Valley to achieve a total 48 MW by the end of 2022.
At our SV11 IBX the Bloom fuel cell system operates as the prime power source for operations, and energy is only pulled from the grid on an emergency basis. This installation is a true demonstration of fuel cell reliability and shows the potential for a greener future, where diesel generators could be replaced with innovative low-carbon technologies.
The Future of Onsite Generation
There are variety of potential future design strategies for data centers to enhance the sustainability and resilience of the world’s energy grids. Concepts around supporting full data center loads with fuel cells and energy storage – either through long-duration batteries or clean hydrogen; while relying on the grid as backup and removing onsite diesel generators, will drive our industry towards a zero-carbon future.
At Equinix, we are excited about the opportunities for new technology to help advance our climate goals. We are preparing for a climate-neutral future through a range of projects and pilots that will validate the potential replacement of onsite generators at our data centers with new technologies that can support the nascent clean energy industries. At the same time, we recognize the urgent need to begin decarbonizing now.
Transition to lower-carbon onsite fuels
From 2020 to 2021, the Sustainability team along with Global Operations began assessing near/medium-term fuel replacement strategies for diesel generators and actively investigating technologies that will help reduce our Scope 1 emissions. Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) emerged as a leading contender to immediately reduce Equinix’s Scope 1 emissions without requiring a complex onsite generation shift away from generators. HVO is a bio-based, liquid fuel, produced using a variety of organic feedstocks. Compared to diesel, HVO can reduce GHG emissions by up to 90%.
As part of our commitment to reach our Science-based Target and Climate-Neutral Goal, Equinix is committed to:
Evaluating Alternative Energy Sources such as Green Hydrogen
We are also considering the role hydrogen may play in the future of energy and how hydrogen-enabled fuel cells help us to take advantage of the nascent green hydrogen economy. In 2021, we joined a consortium of seven companies to launch the EcoEdge PrimePower (E2P2) project, funded with a 2.5 million Euro grant from the Clean Hydrogen Partnership. The project explores the integration of a new kind of fuel cell, optimized for data center use, with lithium-ion batteries and uninterruptible power supply for a power application that is both less costly and more efficient. This technology is being developed as part of an open standard, which gives opportunity to smaller providers to participate.
While there is an opportunity to incorporate hydrogen into our long-term onsite generation strategy, there are other routes to evaluate in the near term. Onsite emissions from Scope 1 sources like diesel and refrigerant comprise 2-3% of Equinix’s overall footprint. However, the transition away from diesel is already being set in place.
“The E2P2 project enables us to demonstrate a novel architecture for power generation, distribution and storage; support a broader transition from natural gas to sustainable hydrogen; and support our goal of operating a climate neutral business by 2030.”
– Justin Dustzadeh, Chief Technology Officer at Equinix