What’s One Secret to Success in Sustainability? Collaboration

David Rinard
What’s One Secret to Success in Sustainability? Collaboration

At Equinix, we pursue our sustainability goals with the intention of continuously making progress, and we’ve learned that a key element of that is collaboration – and not just within Equinix’s four walls.

We join forces with partners across industries and share best practices. We get and give advice on how to do things better. It’s a striking, refreshing and motivating dynamic in the normally intensely competitive business arena, and it’s not just us. All around the corporate world, big names and up-and-comers alike are learning about sustainability from each other.

Just last month, we talked publicly at two different forums to audiences that included some of our best customers, premier companies outside our industry, and a rival or two. We participated in panel discussions with companies including Microsoft, Akamai and General Motors, and we all talked plainly about our obstacles and accomplishments in the hope that everyone in the room could benefit.

Why this level of collaboration? We believe that operating sustainably is better for our employees, our customers, our community, and our planet, no matter where we work. In the end, we’re all trying to do the right thing, and that’s why there’s such a willingness to share. We also plan to further report on our progress in this year’s upcoming corporate sustainability report and we continue to work toward greater success in the coming years.


Sharing knowledge

Last month, I was able to share some of Equinix’s boots-on-the-ground expertise during the GreenBiz ’18 conference in Phoenix. In one industry panel, I gave the audience tips on how to increase understanding of renewable energy procurement and examples of how to make it work for their companies. On a separate panel, I talked about how companies can clearly report good news about sustainability programs to stakeholders. That’s essential when so many companies are setting ambitious renewable energy targets and there is a need to clearly and consistently convey progress and articulate why particular costs are worth it to the business.

My colleague Bruce Frandsen, one of our global utilities and sustainability managers, was at the Smart Energy Decisions 2018 Innovation Summit in Austin, Texas, last month, and he shared best practices with an audience of companies committed to renewable energy. Bruce is also an educator for the Business Renewables Center (BRC), where Equinix is on the advisory board. In that role, Bruce passes on lessons learned about renewable energy procurement to corporate buyers working with the BRC to seal new deals to purchase wind and solar energy. Bruce and I always learn a lot when we get together with colleagues from companies who also prioritize sustainability. Sharing and collaborating offers Equinix a chance to strengthen the partnerships that are critical to our progress at Equinix and learn from others.

Our progress

Equinix is aiming high when it comes to renewable energy. We publicly committed in 2015 to a long-term goal of powering 100% of our global interconnection platform with clean and renewable energy, and we are making significant headway, even as our business continuously expands its data center footprint. We are adding value to our business by helping to green our customers’ supply chain. Preliminary numbers indicate that by the end of 2017, we were covering more than 75% of our global platform with renewable energy; this is up from 56% the year before in 2016. One region where we’ve seen huge progress is Asia-Pacific, where we’ve gone from 0% renewable in 2015 to approximately 60% today.

Those numbers are encouraging, and they clearly show our progress toward our sustainability goals and our long-term commitment to reducing our carbon footprint. But it hasn’t been easy to get here, and we know continued progress isn’t a given.

There’s a part of maximizing sustainability that falls into the “no-brainer” category, sort of like making sure you turn off the lights in the bedroom when no one is in there. It’s the proverbial low-hanging fruit that’s fairly easy to implement, saves dollars, and makes everyone happy. But other gains don’t come as easily. For instance, securing a power purchase agreement with a wind farm is an incredibly complex undertaking, and you might have to explain to stakeholders why it’s a good choice to choose wind over a lower cost, high-carbon fuel source. In the government and regulatory space, there are continued hurdles to deploying solar and wind around the world, and we continue to press our suppliers to offer greener and lower carbon energy products.

At Equinix, we believe it is imperative for companies to always challenge themselves to actively seek solutions that are more sustainable than what they’re doing today. We ask ourselves, “How can we meet the changing needs of our customers and stakeholders, while also enriching the world and doing the right thing?”

Of course, it is often complicated, and the set of solutions isn’t always cut and dry. That’s why we’re happy to take advice from companies, including competitors and customers, with similar sustainability aims. And that’s why we’re happy to give advice, too. The faster we all reach our sustainability goals, the better the world is for everyone.

Please take a minute to read Equinix’s Corporate Sustainability Report.


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David Rinard Sr. Director, Global Sustainability & Strategic Sourcing - Global Design & Construction Dept.
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