data center blogs

Sustainable data centre solutions enabling the digital economy

22 Feb 2024

There is no denying that on a global scale, our planet is experiencing more and more extreme weather.

Record breaking heatwaves, severe flooding, extensive drought, and surging wildfires are becoming more frequent and all too common as a result of climate change.

Last month, we attended The Pacific Telecommunications Council’s annual PTC’24 conference in Honolulu, Hawaii to plan, network and discover the next big thing for the ICT industry. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, sea levels have risen along Hawaii's shores in the last 50 years, and as a result this is threatening coastal communities and island infrastructure. In 2023, the Hawaiian island of Maui experienced some of the worst wildfires on record caused by extremely dry conditions and excessive wind.

In a new era of digitisation, the data centre plays a vital role in the permanent functioning of daily business and consumer lives. From smart cities, the advent of 5G, and for emerging technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), data centres act as the cornerstone to our digital world. They house the physical (and often digital) IT infrastructure which allows data to be stored, processed and transmitted to keep us connected. However, it can be argued that traditional data centre design is where data centres and climate change conflict. Today, data centres are responsible for 1% of energy related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and as a result of this, climate change itself is having a significant impact back on data centres - from the location, the design, and operational running of these facilities.

In the summer of 2022, scorching temperatures across the UK and Europe forced a number of data centres to be shut down due to overheating caused by very hot weather. In the same year, extreme heat in the US also caused data centre outages.

These adverse weather conditions are posing a number of challenges for the industry, as research illustrates a current and future upward trend in warmer temperatures across the globe, with no signs of slowing down.

Data centre challenges due to climate change


IT infrastructure within data centres generate a significant amount of heat, due to the continual running of servers and equipment 24 hours a day, all year round. To preserve favourable operating temperatures, data centres require efficient and reliable cooling systems that will remove heat and prevent any damage to the set up. In very hot weather, cooling systems will need to work extra hard to maintain safe room temperatures.

Power Consumption

In relation to cooling and other systems working at optimal levels in warmer conditions, more power is required and consumed by data centres. Sourcing sufficient power is already becoming a scarce resource, and with growing pressure from climate change groups and governmental targets, data centres need to access more sustainable sources.

Efficiency and Performance

Hot temperatures within data centre halls can adversely impact the efficiency and performance of operational IT infrastructure. UPS and alternative back up power sources can fail, mechanical systems and server equipment can collapse and pose a greater risk to outage. In severe cases, data centres could be forced to shut down or throttle part of their facility, which will influence the site’s performance and overall level of efficiency.

Solutions to help climate change

Despite the above challenges, there are a number of initiatives that data centres can implement to manage and mitigate the long term impact of climate change. Therefore, it is important to partner with a data centre operator with a strategic plan to reduce its own and wider value chain carbon footprint.

At Colt DCS, we strive to be environmentally and socially responsible. That’s why in 2023, we launched our global Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy which sets out three strategic pillars to transform our environmental, social and economic performance:

  • Decarbonising our Business -  focusing our efforts on scaling our business, while delivering on our commitment to become a net zero carbon company in line with the latest Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
  • Connecting People - aspiring to create a lasting positive impact on stakeholders across our entire value chain, from customers and suppliers to local communities and our people.
  • Safeguarding our Company – working to ensure that we run our business responsibly and to the highest ethical standards.

These three strategic pillars are underpinned by multiple commitments and time-bound targets.

Our commitment to the environment

In 2023, we maintained our Platinum rating with EcoVadis, which places us in the top 1% of global companies assessed.

Additionally, we achieved an ‘A-‘ score for the CDP Climate Change questionnaire. It’s evidence of our leadership position on environmental transparency and action on tackling climate change.

To find out more about the different sustainable initiatives we are implementing across our global data centres, such as procuring 100% renewable energy in Europe including the UK and in India, striving towards zero waste to landfill, and conserving water on site using PKDX technology, then download our latest sustainability report