Building a Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation: Migrate to Efficient Data Centers

Migrating from a private data center to a colocation facility is a powerful way to reduce carbon emissions

Lindsay Schulz
Nicholas Hollings
Building a Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation: Migrate to Efficient Data Centers

Sustainability has become both a business imperative and a social responsibility. Leading organizations are investing in foundational sustainable infrastructure to fuel responsible business growth. Not only is improving efficiency and reducing carbon emissions important for the planet and future generations; it can also increase your competitiveness and help future-proof your business.

Hundreds of new regulations and pacts, including the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) in the EU and the SEC Climate Related Disclosures in the US, are driving greater interest in environmental sustainability by mandating that companies work to improve and accurately disclose emissions and other climate-related metrics. In addition, growing pressure from investors, partners and customers reinforces the imperative to build a more sustainable business—starting with your foundational IT infrastructure.

Alongside these pressures are positive incentives too: Investing in sustainability can deliver competitive advantage, as many organizations are increasingly requiring their vendors and suppliers to meet sustainability requirements for reporting. More than half of the world’s largest businesses have already made voluntary commitments to net zero carbon emissions,[1] and addressing the digital supply chain is a critical part of reaching this goal. More and more companies will only do business with IT vendors that have clear sustainability targets and timelines. And working with recognized, sustainable partners in your supply chain gives you the chance to build your reputation as a responsible business.

Creating a sustainable infrastructure foundation isn’t easy to do by yourself. Enterprise data centers rarely have the efficiency of colocation and hyperscale data centers. In fact, according to a recent IDC Infobrief, 77% of enterprise data centers have worse power usage effectives (PUE) than colocation facilities.[2] You can realize value faster and meet your goals sooner by partnering with colocation providers that have the size and purchasing power to invest in the latest sustainability and efficiency technologies. Companies that are committed to advancing their digital strategy while reducing their environmental impact can make substantial, measurable emissions improvements by migrating to cleaner, more efficient data centers.

Reducing carbon emissions from the foundation

It isn’t enough to just improve your direct emissions (Scope 1) and indirect emissions (Scope 2); you need to consider your supply chain (Scope 3) as well. As organizations set sustainability goals and science-based targets,[3] they thus need to consider all three areas:

  • Scope 1 are the direct greenhouse gas emissions from company owned and controlled resources that happen onsite.
  • Scope 2 are indirect emissions created by the consumption of contracted power, usually from a utility, onsite leased power generation and renewables.
  • Scope 3 are indirect emissions from a company’s supply chain (supplier scope 1 and scope 2, specifically).

If you’re currently operating your own private data center, it can be enormously difficult to reduce your emissions, which ultimately involves substantial investments into renewable energy sources. In many cases, the best things you can do to support your sustainability targets are to improve efficiency by investing in IT optimization, upgrading to high-density computing and reducing emissions by migrating to a colocation facility. Migrating your physical infrastructure into a colocation facility is the easiest way to reduce your market-based Scope 1 and 2 data center emissions. Instead of operating a private data center and trying to manage costly, resource-intensive and constantly evolving efficiency best practices, you can physically house your servers and other IT equipment in a highly efficient data center that’s covered by renewable energy. This allows you to take advantage of the economies of scale a larger data center company offers—from efficiency to access to services.

From there, you can make further improvements by right sizing your colocated infrastructure in a place where it’s easy to scale up and down as your needs change. Colocation facilities offer the flexibility to expand as needed while implementing new, more energy efficient IT infrastructure. This enables you to evaluate more efficient high-density IT solutions, reduce your physical footprint and optimize your operations infrastructure in a highly interconnected facility with the ecosystems needed to future-proof your business.

Evolve your physical infrastructure with Equinix

You can potentially reduce operational emissions immediately by migrating to Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers, where you can take advantage of our infrastructure, security, network connectivity and 24/7 monitoring and support. When you migrate to Equinix from a private data center, you can transfer ownership of the Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions created by operating your legacy data center to your supply chain. Equinix becomes your vendor, and thanks to our efficiency and sustainability commitments, you can substantially reduce the Scope 3 market-based emissions attributed to your deployments. Today, 239 out of 260 Equinix IBX data centers are already covered by 100% renewable energy, so colocating to those facilities eliminates market-based Scope 3 emissions from your data center operations.

Migrating to Equinix can also help to address sustainability reporting in light of increasing regulatory requirements. Our Green Power Reports (GPRs)—which include a custom renewable energy certificate and total site-level electricity usage, mechanical and electrical overhead, renewable energy mix and coverage as well as location and market-based carbon footprint data—are how we equip customers with the transparent data they need to quantify the primary environmental benefits of colocating within Equinix data centers.

Here are a few highlights of our efforts to design the data center of the future and empower our customers’ sustainable transformations:

  • Optimized power usage effectiveness (PUE): PUE is a key efficiency metric for data centers. The closer the PUE is to “1,” the more efficient the data center. Reducing PUE in an on-premises data center is quite challenging, and most private data centers have higher PUE than colocation facilities. Equinix has been steadily improving our PUE: Our efficiency investments have helped us achieve an average annual PUE of 1.42.
  • Efficient temperature commitment: In 2022, Equinix became the first colocation data center operator to commit to expand operating temperature ranges to align with ASHRAE A1 Allowable (A1A) standards. Last year, we piloted the transition at various facilities globally, enabling us to operate at the most efficient temperatures for a given site, up to the maximum allowable temperature.
  • 100% renewable energy commitment: To ensure that the power we’re contracting is based on renewables, Equinix has set a target of 100% renewable energy coverage globally by 2030. We’ve already achieved 96% renewables coverage worldwide. To increase our investment in renewable energy, we signed 15 new power purchase agreements (PPAs) in 2023, adding up to 22 total PPAs to date, surpassing more than 3k GWh of renewable energy once operational. PPAs help us add new renewable capacity onto the grids where we operate and increase availability of renewables to those local markets.
  • Exploring onsite power generation: To further support our clean energy commitments, Equinix is exploring new sources of onsite power generation, including solar opportunities and hydrogen-mix capable fuel cells, as well as alternative fuels like hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) for backup generators.
  • Cooling innovations: We’ve also implemented a four-phase framework for maximizing efficiency in our facilities. This includes optimizing air containment, cooling units in the data hall, cooling distribution and cooling generation. We’re implementing advanced liquid cooling technologies in more of our facilities to further improve cooling efficiency.

These are just a few examples of the sustainability and operational efficiency efforts Equinix is making that will convey to any company that migrates to our data centers from an on-premises data center. When you partner with us, you’re working with a company that has the economies of scale and experience to invest in large-scale sustainability and efficiency initiatives. And we’re continually evolving our approach to sustainability, investing in new technologies to deliver cleaner, more efficient outcomes to benefit our business, customers and communities.

Learn more about migrating to Equinix data centers from a legacy data center.

Future-proof your business with sustainable digital infrastructure

According to the Equinix 2023 Global Tech Trends Survey, 71% of tech leaders assert that sustainability practices are crucial for the enduring success of their enterprise. As you explore the possibilities for meeting your sustainability targets, consider what colocation can do for your business.

Colocating at an Equinix IBX data center covered by 100% renewable energy can reduce your associated Scope 3 market-based emissions to zero. And from there, you can make further improvements by using virtualized networking, participating in sustainable ecosystems and deploying sustainable infrastructure at the edge. We’ll cover each of these solutions in future blog posts.

To learn more about how you can optimize sustainable growth for your organization, download our white paper Digitally transform and accelerate your sustainability goals.


[1] New analysis: Half of world’s largest companies are committed to net zero, Net Zero Tracker, November 5, 2023.

[2] IDC Infobrief, sponsored by Equinix, Turning IT sustainability investments into a business advantage, IDC Document #EUR25123082, December 2023.


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