Equinix strives to efficiently manage the consumption of all resources that our data centers and offices use. We have a long history of investing in energy efficiency retrofits, improvements and upgrades. Since 2011, we have invested more than $158 million, with millions of dollars more in execution as part of our ongoing commitment to reduce energy consumption within our data centers. Demand reduction from these energy efficiency activities was roughly 47,500 kW annually including 15,500 kW from projects completed in 2021. This is roughly equivalent to reducing our energy consumption by 415,000 MWh on an annual basis.
Operational efficiency, however, is more than just efficiently managing energy. We are executing on a holistic strategy to reduce the use of energy, water and waste and embed circular economy principles into our operations and supply chain.
Our efforts are, in part, supported by the proceeds of our Green Bonds as Eligible Green Projects. To date we have allocated over $4 million in the category of Energy Efficiency, resulting in an annual energy consumption reduction of 31,000 MWh.
Our Energy Efficiency Center of Excellence (EE CoE) has made significant progress since its launch in 2020. The engineering-driven EE CoE program fosters continuous innovation, infrastructure upgrades, and maximizes the impact of key sustainable technologies across our data center portfolio. This is done by taking a long-term, uniform approach and supporting our local Operations teams to achieve ambitious PUE targets within our IBXs.
The approach is laid out within a robust toolbox and is shared with all IBXs. The toolbox provides a step-by-step guide to channeling investment and capturing the opportunities that arise during business-as-usual plant replacement and other infrastructure upgrade projects. The guide includes educational information on energy basics, efficiency programs, and how to measure against consistently applied KPIs, among other resources.
The efficiency program requires all IBXs to create a 5-year plan to track how they will improve performance, evaluated against four established KPIs assessing supply and return temperatures for water and air. These KPIs provide consistency in data and enable us to gauge progress despite the inherent variances among data centers. The 5-year plan framework is supplemented with information to help calculate energy savings, create a business case, and obtain project funding.
The program also facilitated a cost-effective global procurement agreement for a signage pack to create more awareness about energy efficiency in our IBXs among our engineers and customers, blanking panels and the installation of cold and hot aisle containment to maximize the separation of supply and return air.
The EE CoE has facilitated quick progress; the 28 pilot sites achieved substantial improvements in their numbers within just a year of participating in the program. Of note is Australia, where the sites utilized the toolbox and followed the program to the letter resulting in a 10% PUE reduction country-wide.
The EE CoE also initiated an energy efficiency digital dashboard to facilitate centralized information sharing and progress against KPIs, among other successes. Future work will include feasibility studies to test new technology opportunity inside our data centers.
Energy Efficiency Center of Excellence Approach
At Equinix, we consider PUE as a key sustainability metric for our data centers. We design for aggressive regional targets for all new sites and expansions and 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. The closer to “1” that the PUE is, the more energy efficient the building is in delivering its services.
In our 2020 Green Finance Framework, we committed to investing in buildings with a design average annual PUE threshold of 1.45 or better, which exceeds industry benchmarks.
Current design average PUE goals range from 1.20-1.40 and represent an average incremental efficiency gain of 8-10%. Depending on location and climate, many new sites are designed to below 1.20 at full load.
We aim to achieve our PUE goals through a combination of energy efficiency investments, best practices and operational discipline. By maximizing environmental and ambient conditions where possible, we expect to lower our PUE numbers even more. Since 2015, Equinix has reduced its annualized average global PUE from 1.62 to 1.48, even as we have expanded our portfolio. From 2020 to 2021, PUE improved 5.5% which represents a substantial improvement.
There is increasing recognition that all companies must limit their consumption of natural resources. While energy usage is Equinix’s largest environmental impact, we are also committed to managing and reducing the significant amount of water used for cooling in data centers.
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— however, where water dependence presents a significant adverse impact on the environment or a business risk, dry methods of cooling are employed.
In 2021, Equinix made strides in building the foundations of a holistic water strategy, launching our Sustainable Water Management Program. We initiated the implementation of tools to aid in the tracking of water usage at all sites, helping create a 2021 baseline of our Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) to inform future actions. This information will be fed into a DCIM monitoring system to increase our visibility and give an overall snapshot of opportunities to reduce our water consumption across all facilities. By building a team and platform around water, we are coordinating a global approach toward reducing our water consumption, gaining insights and considering more innovations that will enable us to do our part toward reducing our environmental impact in the communities we serve.
We continue working with 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. With the water stress levels in mind, we are actively researching and employing methods to minimize the impact of water consumption, such as through the use of aquifers or natural bodies of water for heat rejection or using gray water to minimize the processing before consumption.
Another important consideration is the use of water treatment chemicals in our operations. We are currently piloting an innovative chemical-free and water-saving water treatment technology at a few of our data centers. Pilot technologies that show positive outcomes will be introduced worldwide.
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 1 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.
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 total deployment of fuel cells since 2017 saves around 37 billion gallons of water per year.
Waste is an emerging issue for Equinix due to our unique relationships with customers who own and operate the IT infrastructure within our data centers. Our responsibility toward appropriate waste management and disposal, including hazardous waste and e-waste is formalized through ISO 14001 in EMEA.
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 extend the useful life 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.
We are also growing our communication of sustainability best practices to our customers, in support of incorporating circular economy principles into their corporate waste management initiatives across our sites.