Envisioning a More Sustainable Future, Step by Step

As a data center industry leader on sustainability, Equinix is taking bold action to advance our climate commitments

Christopher Wellise
Envisioning a More Sustainable Future, Step by Step

It’s been an exciting year for sustainability in the IT sector. In 2023, we’ve seen more companies prioritizing sustainability in their IT purchasing decisions, and in turn, Equinix has continued to scale up our efforts to deliver the changes our customers want and the planet needs. We know organizations are facing real pressure from new rules and disclosure standards—as well as from their customers and employees—to deliver targets and tangible plans to reach those goals. And we have a growing cross-functional team dedicated to advancing our sustainability programs and innovating to bring sustainable digital infrastructure to market.

According to a report from S&P Global Market Intelligence – 451 Research, most organizations surveyed in their Voice of the Enterprise: Digital Pulse, Sustainability 2023 survey have now either implemented (46%) or are developing (27%) formal targets for reducing their environmental impact.[1] IT operations are often seen as a major contributor to environmental impact, and as a result, 75% of organizations surveyed by S&P Global consider vendors’ reported sustainability and environmental goals to be highly important factors in their technology evaluation and purchasing.

At Equinix, we’ve seen firsthand the risks and challenges our customers are confronting, as well as their keen interest in working with technology partners that can collaborate with them in achieving their sustainability targets. We’re committed to innovating to address the urgency of climate change through our targets too—such as our goal to reach climate neutrality across our global portfolio by 2030—and through enabling customers, partners and vendors on our platform.

As 2023 comes to a close, we wanted to take a look back at some of our sustainability accomplishments this year and think ahead about what’s to come as we continue to lead the data center industry’s sustainable transformation. We’ll be releasing our comprehensive 2023 sustainability report in April 2024, but in the meantime, below are some of the accomplishments we’re most proud of as we end the year.

Scaling our impact on renewable energy

Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are long-term contracts between electricity buyers and renewable energy generators like wind and solar farms. PPAs are a high-impact way for data centers to procure renewables and add new renewable energy sources to local markets.

To support our target of 100% clean and renewable energy globally by 2030, Equinix is steadfastly taking steps to build our renewable energy portfolio. This year, we rapidly scaled our PPA purchasing, increasing our agreements by 300% over 2022. Let’s take a quick look at the history:

  • 2015: Equinix was the first data center company to set a 100% renewable energy goal. That year, we signed PPAs with wind farms in Texas and Oklahoma.
  • 2021–2022: We added three more wind PPAs in Finland.
  • 2023: This year we took major strides, adding 15 new wind and solar PPAs in Europe, including in Sweden, Spain, Portugal and France.

Collectively, Equinix now has 20 PPAs and more than 900 megawatts under contract—and in 2024, we’re looking forward to reaching the milestone of one gigawatt. The projects underlying these PPAs are expected to generate 2.5 million MWh per year once they’re fully online and operational. That’s the equivalent of powering more than 650,000 European homes’ electricity use for a year![2]

And there’s much more to come in this space. Our continued pursuit of PPAs is part of our strategy to focus on investments that materially change the electricity mix of the grids where we operate and help us responsibly grow our business.

Investing in green data center technology

At Equinix, achieving our climate neutrality goal also means investing in technologies we’ll need in the future. Green bonds are financial instruments used to fund projects that have environmental and climate benefits, such as green buildings, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. They’re a way for companies to go beyond just setting ambitious goals and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability in action, through their investments.

As of the end of 2023, Equinix has issued $4.9 billion in green bonds to advance progress on our sustainability initiatives. All bonds are now fully allocated to support sustainability projects, such as a large-scale wind farm PPA in Oklahoma and green building projects across 105 Equinix sites. Our green building and energy efficiency projects include a wide range of innovative endeavors, such as advanced heat recovery systems, state-of-the-art cooling technologies, redesigned chilled water production, rooftop greenhouses and more.

Innovating to design the data center of the future

In addition to new PPAs and our green bond allocation, Equinix has several data center design initiatives underway. The data center of the future needs to be not only clean and efficient but also reliable, optimized to meet customer requirements and flexible. We have been evolving our data center design and exploring the latest solutions for power, cooling, water usage, the circular economy and so much more, while at the same time maintaining reliability with an industry-leading uptime track record of >99.9999%.

At Equinix, we’re actively exploring and testing the data center infrastructure that supports innovations with liquid cooling technology vendors in our Co-Innovation Facility in Ashburn, Virginia. And we recently announced plans to expand support for advanced liquid cooling technologies like direct-to-chip to more than 100 Equinix IBX® data centers across 45+ global metros. These innovations will respond to our customers’ requirements for higher-density workloads and provide the cooling required by the high-power processors needed for AI and ML.

In 2023, we also continued to explore and test innovations that address Scope 1 emissions, which includes fossil fuels for heating, fueling cells and providing backup electricity, as well as refrigerants for cooling systems. Decarbonizing Scope 1 emissions can be challenging for data centers since there are few viable fuel alternatives. While Scope 1 emissions represent a very small portion of our total carbon footprint, addressing them is vital to achieving our sustainability goals. To that end, Equinix has been evaluating low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and testing the use of alternative fuels such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO). We’ve made progress and will soon be using HVO on backup generators at selected Equinix IBX data centers that are qualified for the transition.

Water efficiency is also a critical piece of the sustainability puzzle. Investments in pivotal technologies enable our data centers to reduce our water footprint. At four IBX data centers in Amsterdam, we use aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) technology, which allows us to leverage the natural cold of groundwater as a heat exchanger for the water used for cooling the data center. We’re also enhancing our water metering systems to better understand our actual water performance and help drive informed decisions to evaluate the effectiveness of efficiency projects, detect possible leaks in the system and increase overall water efficiency performance.

Our environmental impact also extends to the ways our data centers affect biodiversity and the ecosystems outside their walls. In 2023, we rolled out AgriSound pollinator monitors to over 20 new builds and expansion projects to learn more about how our green walls, rooftops and landscaping choices are supporting pollinators and what we can improve going forward.

AgriSound pollinator monitor

Future-first is in our DNA

Equinix is a leader in the data center industry on sustainability. Our initial climate target was just the start of a bigger journey, and we’re continuing to accelerate our progress toward achieving that goal. We’re hard at work expanding the possibilities for decarbonizing our own operations and supporting our customers’ and partners’ pursuit of their climate goals.

As we move into a new year, we intend to keep evaluating and advancing our sustainability goals—challenging ourselves to set our sights even higher to make a greater impact on global decarbonization and reducing the impact of our business on the environment. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made on sustainability in 2023 and eager to tackle the continued work ahead of us in 2024 and beyond.

To read more about how enterprises are working to reduce their environmental impact, download the S&P Global Market Intelligence report.


[1] Liam Eagle and Michael Nocerino, Growing number of enterprises have net-zero emissions target date—Highlights from VotE: Digital Pulse, S&P Global Market Intelligence, August 29, 2023.

[2] Assuming average electricity consumption per capita in Europe of 1,671 kWh (Eurostat) and an average household size of 2.3 persons (Eurostat).

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