Innovation and Building
Green Data Centers

Equinix data centers are designed with high operational standards and energy efficiency in mind. We meet global and regional environmental, energy management and green building standards. We continuously invest in our portfolio through energy efficiency improvements, upgrades and retrofits. In addition, we are constantly seeking new ways to innovate within our data centers.

Energy Efficiency

Since 2011, we have invested more than $129 million in energy efficiency upgrades, retrofits and improvements, with millions of dollars more in execution as part of our ongoing commitment to reduce energy consumption within our data centers.

Demand reduction from energy efficiency activities since 2011 is roughly 25,100 kW annually including 2,000 kW from projects completed in 2019. This is roughly equivalent to avoiding 530,000 metric tons in carbon emissions around the world. To put that into perspective, it would be the same amount of carbon that 90,000 cars emit driving 1 billion miles over the course of a year.


Energy Efficiency

530,000 metric tons
Carbon Avoided

Energy Efficiency Center of Excellence

In January 2020, in response to changing markets and requirements, and further drive process improvements, Equinix created a new Energy Efficiency Center of Excellence (CoE).

The new CoE will pilot a globally coordinated approach to upgrading the performance of existing facilities in line with new data center designs. Sites included in the program will set and achieve PUE targets.

This is an engineering-driven program that seeks to channel investment and capture the opportunities that arise during business-as-usual plant replacement and other infrastructure upgrade projects. Maximizing energy savings equals maximizing our return on investment.

Innovation and Design

We have deployed numerous innovations to help achieve higher power efficiency such as adaptive control systems, cold/hot aisle containment, air- and water-side economizer cooling solutions, energy-efficient LED lighting systems and more. In addition, we work to apply ASHRAE thermal guidelines to minimize the overhead of providing site cooling.

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 RecoveryNatural 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.Uses cold groundwater to cool equipment during winter months, eliminating the need for traditional mechanical cooling within the data center.

Local Innovations

We design our sites to take advantage of local environmental conditions and provide interesting co-benefits to local communities. As governments strive to meet their targets for renewable energy sources, so changes the energy profile of the regional network. Our data centers not only empower the growth of renewable energy sources through purchasing but can also recover it to fill deficits in heating capacity for colder regions. This reduces aggregate CO2 emissions and integrates data centers into sustainable communities. Since 2011, our HE3 data center in Helsinki has recovered heat and exported it to the district network and we are adding further sites to this scheme. By using water that has been heated in the data center to 86°F(30°C), Equinix can supply a residential area of 12,000 people with a source of low-carbon heat.

Resilience through Fuel Cells

Onsite, Equinix is deploying a strategy to reduce local air pollution and lower its carbon footprint while saving water. Fuel cells place electricity generation near our energy consumption, enabling maximum efficiency, removing transmission losses and increasing resiliency. 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.

Equinix has 38 megawatts (MW) of fuel cells installed – with 2.6 MW pending for 2020 – across 15 locations to generate cleaner, reliable electricity on-site. In 2019, we contracted an additional 7.1 MW for sites in Boston, New York and Silicon Valley for 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 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.

Co-Innovation Facility

DC15, opening in 2020 in the Washington D.C. area, will house Equinix’s Co-Innovation Facility (CIF). The CIF will be used to trial and showcase advanced power, cooling and control methodologies for use in our future data centers. The facility allows Equinix to work with key innovative suppliers to develop prototype approaches and is unique in our industry.

Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) in Data Center Operations

At Equinix, we continually seek to improve the PUE of our IBX data centers. We design for aggressive regional targets for all new sites and expansions and we measure the PUE of all our data centers globally.

PUE helps track power usage trends in an individual facility over time and measures and spotlights the effects of different design and operational decisions. For example, it shows how the overhead associated with delivering cooling and lighting for a building would change based on different design approaches. The closer to “1” that the PUE number is, the more energy efficient the building is in delivering its services.

PUE is affected by site-specific variables, including:

  • Design, construction and age of the facility; newer data centers typically have more energy-efficient designs and equipment.
  • Energy efficiency of IT equipment housed within the facility; newer servers and machines can often handle greater workloads while drawing less power.
  • Utilization rate of the data center facility; densely occupied facilities that house a lot of IT equipment will have lower PUEs than facilities still attracting new tenants and ramping up occupancy.

Design PUE Targets

Our current PUE goals range from 1.20-1.40 and represent an average incremental efficiency gain of 8-10%.

Operational PUE Reduction

Equinix is lowering PUE through a mix of capital investments, best practices and operational discipline. By maximizing environmental and ambient conditions where possible (such as by using fresh air cooling), we expect to lower our PUE numbers even more. For example, Equinix is leading research on liquid cooling and plans to deploy it with specific solutions being investigated in the Co-Innovation Facility to drive PUE down as low as 1.05. Since 2015, Equinix has reduced its annualized average global PUE by roughly 5%, even as we have grown organically and acquired new data centers into our portfolio.

Green Building and Management Systems Standards

In total, 16 million sq. ft. of Equinix data center gross space and offices are covered under one or more standard such as LEED Silver or Gold, ISO 14001, ISO 50001, U.S. EPA Energy Star. This represents 67% of our global gross square footage.

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

Across EMEA, 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 and 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.

ISO 50001 - CERTIFIED-positive-CMYK
ISO 14001-positive-print-CMYK
ISO 45001 -positive - CMYK

Energy Management Behavior

Equinix has an active energy management behavior modification campaign to encourage customers to utilize blanking panels to reduce inconsistent temperatures between data center server racks and improve airflow efficiency. Posters were designed and hung around many of our data centers to remind customers to install blanking panels. Future work includes customer education and training about the proper installation of panels, cold/hot aisle containment and the resulting environmental benefits.

Energy Management Behavior

Water Usage

Water is an increasingly important and limited natural resource in many parts of the world. As prudent water users, Equinix considers the consumption of water in the design and operation of our facilities and in the production of energy consumed by them. Water is an important component in efficient cooling systems—its use in cooling towers and water-cooled chillers, delivering some of the lowest PUEs. However, where the supply cannot be assured, or reliance on it would represent a business risk or significant adverse impact on the environment, dry methods of cooling are employed.

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 on-site power generation methods such as fuel cells, which consume no water at all.

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 the use of gray water to minimize the processing before consumption. We continuously work with our industry partners to evaluate and provide input on the development of advanced cooling technologies, and we can demonstrate their application in our Co-Innovation Facility.

Using Fuel Cells to Achieve Indirect Water Savings

Equinix’s 38 MW Bloom Energy deployment saves around 4.8 billion gallons of water per year which is a saving equivalent to 7,270 Olympic-sized swimming pools each year or the annual water consumption of 48,000 U.S. households.

Using Fuel Cells to Achieve Indirect Water Savings

Healthy and Sustainable Offices

Many of our teams across the globe are working to advance our sustainability mission, including many office initiatives throughout the world.