Published On April 17, 2019Kevin Hagen, Vice President Environment, Social & Governance (Esg) Strategy at Iron Mountain, discusses a…
Kevin Hagen, Vice President Environment, Social & Governance (Esg) Strategy at Iron Mountain, discusses a first-of-its-kind renewable energy solution for data center customers.
The growth of the data center and colocation industry supports a wave of digital transformation in business. In an increasingly connected world, that creates amazing personal and business opportunities.
It has also created an unprecedented surge in demand for power, which is often generated by conventional coal or natural gas supply. As a result, the demand for data is a significant pollution contributor. According to The Guardian, the data center industry is now responsible for more GHG emissions than the airline industry.
Thousands of companies are taking accountability for their climate impacts by reporting their GHG emissions in annual disclosers such as CDP. More than half of the Fortune 1000 have made public commitments to reduce climate impacts and/or switch to renewable energy.
Many of the biggest companies in the data center industry have become corporate champions for direct purchases of renewable energy like wind and solar. Tech companies have pioneered innovative market solutions which have given them access to cost effective, stable rate green power options that have changed the industry. This has helped companies across the world use their purchasing power to increase demand, drive new supply and reshape energy markets.
The Colocation Carbon Accounting Problem
While data center owners like Iron Mountain have been successful at buying renewable energy, colocation users have been faced with a formidable barrier. The WRI GHG protocol is the accepted standard for accounting and reporting a company’s carbon footprint. However, the lack of a consistent data center industry practice for reporting the direct vs indirect impacts of data center energy use created concern with the WRI protocol process over the potential for double accounting of the GHG reductions.
This meant that there was no accepted way for customers to report any benefits. Barred from counting the GHG reduction benefits of the colocation owner’s contracts, the only solution for customers was to purchase separate off-set or REC purchases to “green” their colocation footprint.
This added complexity and cost. It also prevented colocation customers from expressing their desire for green energy solutions – a move that would empower colocation owners to aggregate demand and drive market change.
a Solution for Colocation Customers
The Future of Internet Power (FoIP) recognized the problem and brought together a powerful collection of the biggest colocation customers, suppliers and other stakeholders, including Iron Mountain. Over a two-year process, our group worked together to build an industry best practice and consensus to solve the problem.
Convened by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), the industry and non-profit collaboration published a “best practice” protocol for data center customers to report the benefits of green power contracted by data center owners.
In a white paper published October 2018, FoIP defined how colocation providers can procure and deliver renewable power to their data centers in order to enable the recognized transfer of green power benefits to their customers. It recommended that data center owners define the electricity used for common functions (the PUE) as their scope 2 and define their tenants’ IT load as scope 3.
Colocation tenants should report the opposite – IT load as their scope 2 and the PUE as their scope 3. In this way, the renewable energy delivered to “green” the building can be counted by both parties without concern for double counting.
The second breakthrough in the FoIP white paper was an agreement on the details of an audited Letter of Attestation that documents the electricity supply and provides the customer (and their auditor) with assurance of a solid chain-of-custody and audit trail for the renewable contracts they are making claims against.
Together, these elements make the FoIP white paper an industry breakthrough and enable a sea of change in the market.
Introducing Green Power Pass
One of those innovations is our Green Power Pass (GPP), a data center renewable energy reporting solution that is the first of its kind in the industry. Built on the new carbon reporting protocol released by the Future of Internet Power (FoIP) working group and our 100 percent renewable energy colocation offering, Green Power Pass is an industry-endorsed, fully-transparent solution for companies seeking to report greenhouse gas or CO2 reductions associated with the green power they consume.
Green Power Pass is available to all Iron Mountain colocation customers and covers power consumed at every Iron Mountain data center across the globe. Reporting is standardized, easy and fast, delivering peace of mind for organizations looking to achieve their sustainability commitments through an annual certificate of attestation validating that 100 percent of the power they use at Iron Mountain is from qualifying renewable resources.
This opens the door for thousands of companies to have access to renewable energy for their data center footprint. More customer access means more green power demand – and that will lead to a greener grid for everyone.
How Does Green
Power Pass Work?
Green Power Pass customers receive an annual certificate of attestation validating that 100 percent of the green power they use at Iron Mountain is acceptable in their reporting. In addition, every GPP customer receives a detailed report on their power consumption and full documentation on the amount, source, and chain-of-custody of the wind, solar or other renewable electricity that Iron Mountain data centers is using to offset the power consumed at that location.
GPP includes signage and logos that Iron Mountain customers can use to demonstrate their Green Power Pass achievement. GPP attestations are performed once a year and include the prior year’s energy consumption. (The attestation covers energy consumed while an Iron Mountain customer.)
In keeping with Iron Mountain’s commitment to offering 100 percent renewable energy in its data center division, early adopter customers through June 30, 2019 can receive these benefits free of charge. To enroll in GPP, simply contact your account manager.
Early adopters such as Akamai, Arizona State University and WeWork are already leading the way. These organizations, committed to global sustainability, are the first customers to adopt Green Power Pass, and delivered valuable feedback as Iron Mountain developed the solution.
Regardless of your organization’s size or industry, we all benefit from the creation of green power solutions for the data center industry. At Iron Mountain, we are excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with peers, competitors and NGOs to make a difference in the world, and we’re thrilled to be able to invite all our customers to join us by offering Green Power Pass.