Data center sector unprepared for expanding sustainability requirements

Data center

The latest Annual Global Data Center survey from the Uptime Institute shows an industry that remains strong but is working to address increasing pressure for sustainability progress and reporting.

The sector is also grappling with continuing staffing shortages, supply chain delays, costly outages and other complex challenges.

"The global digital infrastructure sector continues to enjoy strong growth and expansion, despite the many obstacles operators are facing today," says Andy Lawrence, executive director of research, Uptime Institute Intelligence. "We've seen the industry invest in increased resiliency and reliability, but there's still work to be done when it comes to improving efficiency, environmental sustainability, outage prevention, staffing pipelines and more."

Most respondents say they report on overall data center power use and power use effectiveness (PUE), but many still are not tracking critical environmental metrics. Although 63 percent of operators believe authorities in their region will require them to publicly report environmental data in the next five years, just 37 percent collect and report carbon emissions data (a slight increase over 33 percent in 2021) and only 39 percent currently report their water use (a 12 percent drop compared to 2021). New laws, standards, and requirements are likely to force operators to address these gaps and establish more stringent sustainability tracking and reporting practices in the coming years.

Data center owners and operators are making significant investments in the resiliency of their physical infrastructure, with about 40 percent of respondents reporting increased redundancy levels at their primary data centers in the past three to five years. Power and cooling systems have received similar attention, with a third of operators upgrading either or both.

Over half (53 percent) of data center operators report difficulty in finding qualified employees in 2022 -- up from 47 percent in 2021 and 38 percent in 2018. Plus 42 percent of respondents report issues with staff being hired away (in most cases to data center competitors) -- a massive increase over just 17 percent in 2018, which demonstrates the growing challenge of employee retention throughout the sector.

You can get the full survey on the Uptime Institute site.

Photo Credit: Scanrail1/Shutterstock

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