Digital Realty: Leading Sustainable Initiatives Across EMEA

Just under two years ago, all 27 member states of the European Union (EU) committed to turning Europe into the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Entitled the European Green Deal, the commitment inspired the leading European data center operators to create a self-regulatory initiative, the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact (CNDCP). Seventy two companies and 22 associations — including Schneider Electric and Digital Realty — are signatories.

Signatory data center operators and trade associations have pledged to meet ambitious, measurable targets for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions of the climate law by leveraging technology and digitalization in order to meet the goal of making Europe climate neutral by 2050. To ensure data centers are an integral part of the sustainable future of Europe, data center operators and trade associations have agreed to make data centers climate neutral by 2030.

This is a mission-critical initiative as digital transformation, data growth and digital workplaces drive the increased demand for data centers. Providers have to be able to solve the challenges of the digital economy and meet the needs of a climate-neutral world.

Combining Data and Sustainability Solutions

Digital Realty is the largest global provider of cloud- and carrier-neutral data center, colocation and interconnection solutions. Through their global data centre platform (PlatformDIGITAL®), they are committed to solving the world’s data challenges. They are equally committed to sustainably managing their environmental impact working in very close cooperation with Schneider Electric.

Even before the pandemic, Digital Realty began its research by developing the Data Gravity Index™ (DGx™). The first iteration was released in September 2020 and by December 2020, v1.5 included 53 global metros. In it, specific pairs of metros in EMEA are identified as experiencing the most significant increases in data flows and data gravity intensity between each other.

For example, the highest level of increased data exchange was found between London and Amsterdam, followed by Paris and London. When coupled with a projected 144% increase of global data gravity intensity through 2024, it’s easy to see why the emphasis on data centers being effective and effecient is more important than ever.

Global Sustainability Initiatives

While helping companies rearchitect infrastructures to overcome Data Gravity barriers and adapt to the digital economy, their 2020 ESG Report features several global sustainability milestones.

In 2020, Digital Realty set global carbon reduction target with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The target involves reaching a targeted 68 percent reduction in direct emissions and a 24 percent reduction in indirect emissions by 2030, in line with a 1.5-degree climate change scenario.

At the same time in EMEA through their membership of the European Data Centre Association (EUDCA), Interxion: A Digital Realty Company established – together with other data center operators – the Climate Neutral Datacenter Pact ‘Self Regulatory Framework’ together with Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe ( To emphasize their sustainability commitment, Digital Realty is leading the EUDCA policy communication and is a member of has a CNDCP board member.

Globally, there are countless examples of how Digital Realty has decreased its carbon footprint. For example, 100 percent of Interxion’s combined portfolio electricity supply is  renewably sourced.

Reducing Environmental Impacts

Digital Realty’s data centers are designed to reduce environmental impacts, use sustainable construction materials, and deliver industry leading power usage effectiveness (PUE) levels. This results in a smaller carbon footprint when compared to similar data centres. Digital Realty has also completed more than 70 green building certifications globally since 2007, more than any other data centre developer.

These green building certifications include LEED, BREEAM, BCA Green Mark Scheme, Green Globes, CEEDA. Digital Realty also leads the data center industry in implementing energy efficiency ratings, primarily under the EPA’s ENERGY STAR® ceritifcation program. In addition, a significant proportion of the EMEA portfolio is certified to ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System) and ISO 50001 (Energy Management System).

Recognizing that the industry needs innovative designs that address today’s challenges, Interxion has put in place a number of technically innovative solutions such as the use of aquifers in Amsterdam, Switerland and the Marseille River Cooling solution, which is now 100 percent operational at its Interxion Marseille Campus – MRS2 and MRS3 data centres. The €15 million cooling solution, which is up to 30 times more energy efficient than traditional cooling systems, will result in savings of up to 18,400 megawatt hour (MWh) annually, while simultaneously mitigating the emission of 795 tons of CO2, the equivalent of 5,560 trees planted each year without water removel. River Cooling Project in Marseille won the DCD Carbon Champion Award in 2021.

As a significant supplier to Digital Realty, Schneider Electric is on a similarly ambitious sustainability journey and together both companies are achieving strong measurable results.

New Ways to Slash Emissions

Interxion has been working with Schneider Electric’s research and development teams to optimize energy-efficient equipment, such as cooling infrastructure and energy supply. In addition to data center design, the two companies have worked together on broader sustainability initiatives such as their partnership on the Calanques National Park Seagrass project pilot, which aims to protect one of the biggest existing carbon stocks. Interxion has been reducing its carbon footprint in France since 2014, and it was the first major data center operator in that country to purchase electricity from renewable energy sources.

Between 2014 and 2020, Interxion reduced its French CO2 emissions by an average of 20 percent each year while simultaneously increasing the IT capacity available to its customers in France by 14 percent annually.

The Port of Marseille data centers also benefit from an innovative cooling solution that received technical and financial support from the French Agency for Ecological Transition. A visual walkthrough of the data center shows how the river water cools the data center. This renewable energy solution enables the project to avoid chillers, limiting data center energy consumption and carbon emissions. In addition, this recycled water doesn’t use any potable water withdrawals, nor does it require chemical treatment of the water. Importantly, it also protects local biodiversity.

The heat generated by the Marseille data centers will be fed into the local heating network, supporting the heating needs of 5.4 million square feet of residential and commercial buildings.

Due to these initiatives and many other innovations, at the end of 2020 Interxion France achieved carbon neutrality and committed to remain so for existing facilities and future expansion, based on scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Sustainability Partnership

With a solid track record in driving the ESG agenda, the partnership between Digital Realty and Schneider Electric is proving to be an effective force for delivering effective policy outcomes through a blend of technical innovation, sector, and government engagement.

Considering environmental sustainability as an integral part of a business model for colocation operators can improve brand reputation, reduce total cost of ownership (TCO), improve competitiveness, retain talented employees, and increase brand value, which ultimately increases business value. Please visit our web page for more information on our offers and solutions.

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