Data Surprises: How to Find Business Value in Sustainability

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The demand on data centers has never been higher, and it’s only going to grow. How do we build and run today — for tomorrow? The Data Center Tech Bytes podcast features big industry conversations that take place in just a small amount of time. Join us as we begin to re-define the data center of the future, and get ready for smarter and more sustainable operations to support greater connectivity and capacity.

In episode four, Mike Fraser, Vice President of Global Sustainability Development for Schneider Electric speaks with Kevin Hagen, Vice President Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) Strategy for Iron Mountain. The company is known for protecting and managing information and assets. It also has a substantial data center footprint with 15 facilities across the United States, Europe and Asia.

Since data centers are huge energy consumers, this meant Iron Mountain also had a substantial carbon footprint before beginning its sustainability journey several years ago. Now, 77% of the company’s global electricity portfolio comes from renewable energy, according to Kevin. This achievement was born from broad collaboration and eventually gets passed on to customers —  ultimately creating a market shift.

Changing Conventional Thinking about Sustainability with Data

Conventional thinking assumes that sustainability and profitability are mutually exclusive. Knowing that changing this long held either/or mindset isn’t easy, Mike asks Kevin to dig into how the process of finding business value in sustainability began for Iron Mountain.

“We had to understand our current state,” says Kevin, “The real work starts with data, with having something in place to measure and report on your energy usage and climate impact. The tool we used is EcoStruxure Resource Advisor from Schneider Electric. It helped turn an emotional topic into concrete numbers.”

Finding out that more than half of Iron Mountain’s carbon impact was through the electricity it purchased was a major discovery and equated to a business exposure, Kevin points out.

“The data opened our eyes to a lot of information we were blind to previously. That’s why it’s a mistake for any company on a sustainability journey to start with the action instead of the information. Identifying the opportunity to buy renewable energy under long term, fixed price contracting was a huge advantage to us,” he says.

Finding the Business Value of Sustainability

Kevin says that understanding the long-term aspects of its energy footprint helps future proof the company. This goal aligns with Iron Mountain’s “very long” business view on which its customers depend.

What’s more, along the way, Iron Mountain also realized that its customers faced similar challenges when trying to find the business value of sustainability. But the ability to pass through its results to help large enterprise customers reduce their carbon footprints turned out to be harder than expected.

Still, after many years and a complex process collaborating with a consortium, NGOs, customers and “carbon geeks,” Iron Mountain created its Green Power Pass product

Listen to the Podcast for More Insights

Mike and Kevin get into the details of how any company — not just data center or colocation providers — can make sustainability good for the business and good for customers. Listen to the full Data Center Tech Bytes now.

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