ENVIRONMENT

Design, Innovate and Build for the Environment

Equinix is investing in facility design and innovative new technologies to create a healthier environment while ensuring reliability, resilience and sustainability of our portfolio. Our approach is critical in defining a sustainable future for data centers. We are collaborating with industry peers to develop innovative solutions to ensure our services are efficient and reliable.

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
  • Piloting and 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 and customers
  • Advocating and supporting increased governance of environmental sustainability within Equinix’s operations and supply chain and across our industry

Green Buildings

Equinix data centers reflect our holistic and innovative approach to sustainability. Our global reference designs consider the intersectionality of environmental and social sustainability, striving for resource efficiency while meeting the needs of our communities. From the materials used to construct our buildings to certifications of compliance with international standards, we are designing with high ambitions.

Bare Metal Project
Equinix supported the production of the Bare Metal Project a 10-minute film with 30+ digital infrastructure companies united on reducing embodied carbon. The film was screened at several industry events and was an official selection in 15 international film festivals, winning more than 13 awards, including: Best Green and Environmental Film, and an Outstanding Achievement Award.  Beyond the film’s merits, we established new and deeper relationships with leading organizations and industry associations that are needed to meet the challenges of climate change as a united industry.

Green Buildings Certifications
As a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Gold member, Equinix demonstrates our commitment to LEED certification and sustainable design in our buildings. Our LEED scorecard is used during every new build to assess sites against USGBC guidelines and shape each project’s sustainability strategy.

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.

Results
Data centers receiving green certifications in 2021 and 2022 totaled 1.6 million gross sq. ft. The following new sites received ratings in 2021 and 2022. Additional certifications are pending final submissions.

Data Center Metro Area Rating Scheme Level Achieved
2021
DA11 Dallas, Texas LEED Silver
ME2 Melbourne, Australia LEED Gold
SG4 Singapore BCA Green Mark GoldPlus
SV11 Silicon Valley, California LEED Gold
TY12x Tokyo, Japan LEED Silver
2022
GN1 Genoa, Italy LEED Gold
OS2x Osaka, Japan LEED Certified
OS3 Osaka, Japan LEED Silver
SG5 Singapore BCA Green Mark
LEED
Platinum
Silver

Compliance and Management System Standards

In support of our environmental progress, we pursue certifications, standards and compliance for our IBX® data center locations around the world. In the past year, our customers have increasingly requested environmental ISO compliance—one of the most reputable international standards addressing energy, waste and water—to align with their own certification requirements. We continue to successfully maintain certification to ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Standard and ISO 50001:2018 Energy Management Standard for all existing sites in EMEA. We are also expanding compliance globally, with Singapore, Japan, Australia (ISO14001, ISO50001), California, Washington, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Texas and Chile (ISO 50001) as our next regions to become certified to these standards. Equinix immediately pursues ISO certification for newly constructed sites. We are in the process of globalizing our Environmental (ISO14001), Energy (ISO50001) and Health and Safety (ISO45001) standards for certification in the regions that are not certified within the next three years.

Equinix is committed to collaborating with peers and industry partners to support lower carbon options for data center operators and their suppliers. For fifteen years, Equinix has participated in the EU Code of Conduct on Data Centre Energy Efficiency. This initiative, led by the European Union’s Joint Research Center, focuses on supporting data center operators in increasing their energy efficiency. Thirty-five of Equinix’s EMEA data centers report Utility and IT kWh per 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.

Results

Region Total Gross sq. ft.
(million)
Area of Eligible Portfolio
with LEED Certification
(million sq. ft.)
Eligible Portfolio with
LEED Certification (%)
Americas 11.6 3.6 31%
Asia-Pacific 7.0 4.3 63%
EMEA 9.5 0.7 8%
Global 28.1 8.6 31%
Logo of U.S. Green Building Council LEED.
Logo of European Union Code of Conduct on Data Centre Energy Efficiency.
ISO 50001 certification mark.
ISO 14001 certification mark.
Logo of BCA Green Mark.

Embodied Carbon

Equinix understands the critical role of data centers in decarbonizing our future, especially as it relates to the materials we use in our facilities. One of the primary sources of our GHG emissions is associated with the cradle-to-gate emissions for specific categories of our purchasing activity. In particular, the embodied carbon from our Purchased Goods and Services and Capital Goods (Scope 3, Category 1 & 2) represent the most significant portion of our Scope 3 emissions. In an effort to study and understand our embodied carbon, we use whole-building life cycle analyses (WBLCAs) to measure the embodied carbon of all new data center builds. Measuring these emissions and analyzing the resulting global dataset enables us to strategically engage suppliers and employees to identify and implement reduction initiatives that provide solutions specific to each region.

Our WBLCA results provide our team with critical emissions data associated with our buildings to inform opportunities for emission reductions in our design and construction activities. To date, we completed ten WBLCAs and have twelve further projects in progress. By leveraging the data obtained from these studies and initiatives, we are able to integrate carbon considerations into the selection, procurement and assembly method of our data center builds and have integrated embodied carbon estimates into our business case approvals process.

At Equinix, we strive to accurately measure and determine what parts of our designs and which material choices provide the best opportunity for impact. Key to this is having a robust methodology that ensures all of the impactful data center components are included in the assessment, in addition to obtaining that enough data points to draw conclusions from.

Our analyses are largely aligned with LEED v4.1 MR Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction, Option 2 Whole Building Life Cycle Analysis, as we use the One Click LCA tool, and report for the same life cycle stages and impact categories. To account for the nuances of the data center asset compared to other assets (e.g., residential, commercial, retail buildings) and to better capture the embodied carbon associated with our data centers, Equinix has been expanding the boundaries of our WBLCA physical scope beyond LEED requirements.

Graphic of Equinix's whole-building life cycle analyses to measure the embodied carbon of all new data center builds.

Most building assets, such as the superstructure, substructure and envelope, account for the majority of embodied carbon within a building. Additionally, data centers are often served by ancillary infrastructures, external to the facility, which can significantly contribute to the overall embodied carbon. Equinix includes ancillary infrastructures in our current WBLCA analyses, and we plan to further expand this scope to include generator and substation buildings and MEP services and equipment.

Being able to capture WBLCA data of our projects is fundamental for our efforts in reducing GHG emissions, as it has the dual effect of shaping our carbon reduction strategy when it comes to design, selection, procurement and assembly method of our data center builds, and contributing to the refinement of our Scope 3 carbon accounting.

Biodiversity

Equinix recognizes that while our data centers provide efficient and reliable service to our customers, they also represent opportunities to support our local communities and surrounding environment. We are therefore committed to preserving and, where possible, enhancing ecosystems and biodiversity, including animal life, natural vegetation, habitat, pollinator function, and the ecological services that they provide, proximate to our IBX® data centers. Biodiversity was identified as a priority topic through our most recent materiality assessment, conducted in late 2022, reinforcing this commitment as being highly important to both the business and our stakeholders.

Our work to support biodiversity, while nascent, is quickly growing. Existing efforts include:

  • Seeking to avoid development in close proximity to protected species
  • Re-habilitating present species during land development
  • Addressing deforestation in the IBX® construction processes
  • Conducting reforestation and on-site habitat restoration where necessary
  • Implementing ecosystem-conscious construction schedules to be cautious of sensitive periods for on-site ecology
  • Maintaining compliance with local and regional regulations around biodiversity and land use

We also proactively update our global design guidelines to comply with regional requirements, especially within Europe, and most recently incorporated biodiversity assessments for new builds into our guidelines to understand risks and related mitigation methods. In 2023, we are looking to implement strategies at new sites to dedicate a portion of green space at each location.

Our Dublin IBX® site supports biodiversity through installed green spaces and AgriSound monitoring devices to track pollinator activity nearby

We have begun measuring pollinator activity using devices that detect vibrations given off by pollinators, including multiple insect species. This allows us to report on progress from our baseline and demonstrates the potential to scale this system in various ecosystems.

Graphic of Equinix's whole-building life cycle analyses to measure the embodied carbon of all new data center builds.

Design Innovation

Equinix is continually exploring what a sustainable future for data centers looks like by considering resource availability, regulatory changes and new innovations. We advocate alongside others to push for industry-wide transformations by demonstrating what is possible through our design models. The “Data Center of the Future” is an initiative at Equinix to envision how data centers can operate more sustainably at scale.

Graphic showing Equinix's Data Center of the Future concepts. Low-carbon energy: low-carbon, local generation as either prime or standby power, enabling the transition toward grid integration and stabilization. Circular economy: Embedded circular economy principles--prioritizing heat recovery, water conservation, building materials embodied carbon reductions and hardware recycling. High-efficiency cooling: High-efficiency air cooling and transitioning toward higher density deployments, leveraging liquid cooling technologies. Software optimized and automated: Software optimized and automated data center systems, leveraging AI & ML to achieve energy efficiencies and improve power forecasting.

Operational Business-as-Usual Improvements

Airflow
Management
COLD / HOT AISLE
CONTAINMENT
ENERGY-EFFICIENT
LED LIGHTING
HIGH-TEMPERATURE
CHILLED WATER SET POINTS
We have developed and introduced a new app called Airtight to help our teams enforce our Airflow Management policy and raise awareness with our customers. In 2022 we generated 1,000 customer interactions to solve Airflow management issues. 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 reduce energy consumption.

Newer Technology and Innovation Highlights

ASHRAE Thermal Guidelines DCIM & Adaptive
Control Systems
Fuel cells for
cleaner, reliable power
Heat recovery,
District Heating
Reduce power consumption for cooling, while maintaining a safe operating temperature for computing equipment; moving from A1 recommended to A1 allowable (A1A) and W27 for liquid cooling applications. 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. 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.
Aquifer thermal energy storage Longer-Duration
Battery Storage
Machine Learning
and AI
Natural Refrigerants
Uses 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. 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.

Data Center of the Future: Co-Innovation Facility

Outside view of the Co-Innovation Facility. Our Co-Innovation Facilities (CIF) is a component of our Data Center of the Future initiative, where we bring our innovations to life. In 2021, Equinix announced the grand opening of our first CIF at our Ashburn, Virginia campus in the Washington, D.C. area. This facility enables Equinix and innovation partners to collaborate on defining the future of digital infrastructure in data centers by testing new, more efficient and more sustainable technologies. The CIF allows us to consider customer requests by trialing new experiments in an isolated environment. Successes achieved in the CIF are then implemented in working data centers, thereby expand possibilities for our customers and suppliers to progress against their climate goals.

Equinix has partnered with several innovative suppliers to develop prototype approaches via the CIF, including Bloom Energy, ZutaCore and Natron. These partnerships have explored liquid cooling, high-density cooling, intelligent power management and on-site prime power generation. After successfully trialing liquid cooling in the CIF, we are now provisioning liquid cooling distribution in 1-3 key metro areas.

Open19

As a premier member of The Open19 Foundation and with representation on the Foundation’s board, Equinix is fully invested in the implementation of the Open19 open-source data center ecosystem. Deployment using Open19 is modular, allowing significant flexibility for customers using a just-in-time model, while retaining energy efficiency. In 2022, we worked to develop a standard prototype cabinet with Equinix Metal®, a service allowing customers to lease server capacity on an as-needed basis with Equinix managing the related hardware and physical environment, driving the design requirements. We also began trialing liquid cooling for servers as part of Equinix Metal’s deployment of Open19.

Resilience Through Fuel Cells

Fuel cells are an important component of our strategy to achieve cleaner energy, resiliency and energy security. By the end of 2022, Equinix deployed 43.5 megawatts (MW) of fuel cells in the USA. Fuel cells generate power through electrochemical reactions and can be up to 20% to 35% cleaner than the marginal emissions rates for the regional grids where we have deployed the technology. Fuel cells also reduce particulate emissions to negligible levels, as compared to traditional combustion gas-fueled power plants and consume no water other than a minor amount for startup sequencing.

As fuel cells provide “always-on” baseload power, they are complementary to the electricity grid and suited for balancing and reducing the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels such as coal. This approach helps offset overall grid emissions, removes transmission losses and maximizes efficiency while reducing our reliance on the power grid. Additionally, all of our deployed fuel cell technologies are designed to accept up to a 50% hydrogen blend “as is,” positioning us well to take advantage of the future hydrogen market as it evolves.

Of note is our SV11 IBX, which recently began operating with fuel cells as the primary power source and only using energy from the grid on an emergency basis. Once proven at scale, fuel cells as a primary source of power gives Equinix optionality for powering buildings in scenarios where local utilities cannot meet our requirements. The feasibility of these installations intends to further validate fuel cell reliability and shows the potential for a greener future, where diesel generators could be replaced with innovative low-carbon technologies.

43.5
MW
FUEL CELLS
INSTALLED
175,000 MTCO2e AVOIDED
SV11 PRIME POWER FUEL
CELL DEPLOYMENT
ANNOUNCED 2021
143
Billion
GALLONS OF
EMBEDDED WATER
USE AVOIDED

The Future of On-site Generation

At Equinix, we are excited about the variety of potential future data center design strategies to enhance the sustainability and resilience of the world’s energy grids while advancing our own climate goals. 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 on-site diesel generators—will drive our industry toward a zero-carbon future.

We are preparing for a climate-neutral future through a range of projects and pilots that will validate the potential replacement of on-site generators at our data centers with new technologies that can support the nascent clean energy industries.

Heat Recovery
Our customers’ IT equipment generates heat which we remove and transfer out of the data halls using our cooling systems. This heat is reused as much as possible but inevitably results in excess heat. As the intersectionality of environmental and social sustainability is a core component of our design process, we are designing creative methods to repurpose and recover more heat in our buildings to create a positive impact on our environment and communities. To drive these efforts, we are evaluating heat recovery solutions for all new builds and strive to contribute back to heat networks as feasible.

At our data center facility in Paris, we have recovered approximately 6.6MW of heat through its modular and responsive design. The system redirects excess heat to power rooftop greenhouses and aquaponic systems that grow fruits and vegetables. Excess heat is also distributed to the Paris 2024 Olympic Pool and neighboring residential and offices spaces. Additionally at the Paris site, we partnered with a local homeless shelter to donate produce grown in our rooftop greenhouses. We are working to further incorporate community engagement opportunities within our site selection process and hope to scale these efforts with existing builds around the world.

Evaluating Alternative Energy Sources Such as Green Hydrogen 
Equinix is exploring the future potential 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.

In Singapore, Equinix and the Centre for Energy Research & Technology (CERT) launched a partnership in 2022 to research and evaluate technologies for use in tropical data centers. Proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and fuel-flexible linear generators represent two opportunities to make use of hydrogen energy, with the latter having the capability to switch among multiple additional clean energy options.

“We are keen to work with industry partners like Equinix, which is known for its sustainability efforts and provides us access to a global network of data centers that can serve as a testbed for a more accurate assessment of operational viability… We look forward to playing a driving role for green data center innovations that can be applied in Singapore and globally.”

-Associate Professor Lee Poh Seng, Director, Centre for Energy Research and Technology, NUS College of Design and Engineering.

Learn more about Energy, Water and Resource Efficiency at Equinix