Sustainable development according to the United Nations (UN) is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”[i] As part of its efforts to drive better ecological stewardship, the UN has designated four interconnected domains of sustainable development: society, environment, culture, and economy. For example, a growing economy depends on a healthy environment to provide the resources it needs to continue growing, while a healthy environment depends on society taking measures to conserve and protect it for the future.
Today, many businesses have adapted these domains into three pillars for corporate sustainability: Environment, Social and Governance (ESG). “Environment” looks at how companies develop approaches to sustainable operation and innovation to advance positive environmental outcomes. Examples of environmental focus areas include greening the supply chain, reducing onsite and offsite carbon emissions, conserving natural resources or applying circular economy principles to business operations and design. “Social “is focused towards advancing human society in its relationships with other businesses and communities in areas such as workforce accessibility, human rights advocacy, education, diversity, employment opportunities and supporting nonprofits or making philanthropic investments. Finally, “Governance” focuses on ensuring transparent, ethical and accurate business practices in areas of regulatory compliance, internal controls, financial accounting, executive leadership and shareholder rights.
These pillars, in turn, form the basis by which the ethical practices of a company can be assessed through measurement frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), CDP Climate Change, EcoVadis surveys and others such as MSCI, ISS and FTSE4Good. More and more, socially conscious investors are also looking at ESG ratings to screen potential investments.
How Efficient and Resilient Datacenters Accelerate Sustainability Progress
This IDC InfoBrief explores how modern and technically innovative data centers are at the foundation of a sustainable digital transformation. Find out how data center providers can play a key role in driving sustainability progress.Download Now
Why sustainability is essential to business success
There is a strong societal and business push towards advancing sustainability progress as the concerns of climate change – from the wildfires in Australia and California – to major droughts, to social justice, diversity and inclusion movements become more evident. An inclusive and equitable world goes hand in hand with sustainable growth. Over half of the world’s total GDP ($44 trillion) is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its resources, although we are overusing the earth’s biocapacity by at least 56% at current rates of consumption, according to research.[ii] In addition to protecting raw materials upon which all products and services are based, additional benefits that environmental sustainability efforts bring to business include – operational and supply chain resiliency in the face of climate change risk, staying ahead of changing regulations, increasing profitability and identifying new market opportunities. Sustainable businesses also tend to garner higher rates of investment, increased talent retention and better market recognition and reputation.
How Equinix and Oracle are driving sustainable digital transformation
Equinix and Oracle® have a long-standing partnership helping businesses in their digital transformation journeys. Equinix provides access to Oracle Cloud via Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) FastConnect with Equinix FabricTM in 56 metropolitan areas across five continents to 17 Oracle Cloud commercial and Government regions. Equinix Fabric enables businesses to connect digital infrastructure and services on demand via secure, software-defined interconnection. Together Oracle and Equinix help reduce deployment time for Oracle Cloud services via FastConnect with Equinix Fabric.
But it doesn’t stop there. Equinix and Oracle also share similar values when it comes to fueling responsible digital transformation. Given the growth of data centers to support that digital transformation, each with significant energy requirements, sharing these values is an essential part of our partnership. Consider these highlights of our respective commitments and progress:
Oracle: Sustainability is everyone’s business.
Sustainability is inherent in the way Oracle thinks about and approaches nearly every aspect of its business, from operational efficiency to product development to employee engagement.[iii]
- Renewable energy: Oracle Cloud aims to source 100 percent of our energy from renewables by 2025. In 2019 we derived 59% of our power from such sources.
- Carbon intensity reduction: Oracle set a target for a 55 percent reduction in emissions, per unit of energy, between 2015-2025. We achieved a 42% reduction as of 2019.
- Carbon reduction: Oracle aims for a 26% reduction in absolute emissions from 2015-2025. As of 2019, we have reduced emissions by 20%.
- Water usage: Oracle targets a 33% reduction in potable water use, per square foot, between 2015-2025, and achieved a 14% reduction toward that goal by 2019.
Circular economy and supplier engagement are also important to Oracle. In fiscal year 2020, our hardware take back program collected over 2.5 million pounds of retired hardware assets, of which 99.6% was either reused or recycled. We have also applied circular economy principles to our packaging, shipping, and manufacturing processes to improve efficiencies and reduce waste and emissions.
Getting to a clean cloud is not just important to Oracle, it’s important to our customers who are asking for greater detail in regards to our sustainable operations. We depend on suppliers to help provide those answers. Equinix is one of our top suppliers, not only in terms of helping us achieve our goals but also in the quality of information they provide. It’s a real differentiator.
Equinix: Protecting, connecting and powering a sustainable digital world
As a leader in our industry, Equinix is committed to maximizing the benefits of technology for all people while minimizing its impact on our planet.
- Renewable energy: A 100% clean and renewable energy target was announced in 2015. As of 2019 Equinix sourced 92% renewable energy and maintained renewable coverage for all existing sites in 2020; while aiming to include acquisition sites in future renewable energy procurement efforts.
- Carbon reduction: Equinix achieved a 60% reduction in carbon emissions since 2015 even as our global footprint of data centers has doubled through organic growth and acquisitions. In 2021, Equinix joined other providers to form the Climate Neutral Data Centre Operator Pact and Self-Regulatory Initiative, which is committed to ensuring data centers in Europe are carbon neutral by 2030.
- Water usage: Fuel cell deployments save approximately 4.8 billion gallons of water per year as compared to other forms of power generation.
- Design and innovations: Energy efficiency and sustainable data center design are core to our strategy, and we continue to deploy innovations that benefit all our customers such as data center infrastructure management (DCIM) via IBX SmartView™. New approaches including adaptive control systems, liquid cooling, heat recovery and more are also being deployed. Additionally, we have launched an Energy Efficiency Center of Excellence (EE COE) and Co-Innovation Facility (CIF) to further advance energy efficiency improvements and explore innovations that will continue to push the envelope for sustainability. In the CIF, we will work with new partners to pilot and showcase power, cooling and control methodologies for use in our future data centers.
- Sustainable investments: Since 2020, Equinix has issued nearly $3 billion ingreen bonds in the U.S. and Europe to support multiple areas of innovation including green buildings, renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste reduction and clean transportation.
As we move forward together on these goals, it is worth reflecting on the fact that digital infrastructure – powered by technology solutions from companies like Oracle and interconnection services such as those found on Platform Equinix® – can be an enormous force for good. Consider the positive environmental impact that remote work, supported by digital technologies, brings in terms of reduced travel, waste and pollution. The positive environmental impact of these technologies, which drive more efficiency, less waste and de-materialization of processes, is estimated to be over seven-times higher than their environmental costs. However, you can rest assured that we are still pressing hard to minimize or eliminate those remaining impacts.
Looking ahead, Equinix and Oracle remain committed to providing a sustainable digital foundation for our customers with the goal of helping them grow responsibly.
To learn more about how modern, innovative data centers are at the foundation of sustainable digital transformation, read IDC’s “Datacenters and Sustainability Goals.”
You may also be interested in watching the Equinix and Oracle webinar on how to embed environmental sustainability into your digital journey: Sustainability: A Green Reset for Digital Transformation.
You may also be interested in reading:
- IDC – Equinix’s Sustainability Progress – IT Provider Corporate Responsibility Profile
- Equinix Sustainability Report
[i] UNESCO, Sustainable Development.
[ii] World Economic Forum, Nature Risk Rising: Why the Crisis Engulfing Nature Matters for Business and the Economy, Jan 2020; WWF, 2020 Living Planet Report landing page and report.
[iii] Oracle, Sustainability 2025: Oracle renews commitment to environmental goals, Dec 2020; Oracle Corporate Citizenship Report Data Sheet, 2020.