Whilst we all know the sustainability agenda is an increasingly important one, it can sometimes feel like an overwhelming, even intimidating area to try and make significant progress in. Change can be hard, especially when it’s so important. So, to further support the industry’s move towards greener, smarter data centers, the team here at DCD convened a special panel, featuring three young industry professionals from around the world, each past winners of the DCD Young Mission Critical Engineer of the Year Award to cast a spotlight on how the industry is faring on its path towards net zero.
There’s plenty of big questions to focus upon; a sustainable recovery from COVID, the role of cleantech, concerns for the future, risks around greenwashing, regulation, legislation, the new US administration, water, mindset changes and more.
Sarah Davey a Mechanical Engineer at Arup opens up with her views on how much of a generational issue this is: “I think that sustainability awareness is something of a marker for this generation. When it comes to computing, I think that becomes quite an interesting issue, because this is also the generation that is driving a lot of the requirement for an industry like data centers, from habits with streaming and mobile phones.”
“Millennials may not have started out life with this industry being around, but we've grown up with it, and we are very, very used to it. So whilst there might be demands for change, we’re also perpetuating the need to have these sort of industries”, continued Davey.
For Laura Rogers, Commissioning Department Manager at Morrison Hershfield, the circular economy is an area of particular interest; “The idea that everything gets recreated back into something else and there’s no waste at the end definitely has the potential to shake up the industry. This could be from an energy perspective, but also within equipment like computer racks, that could be disassembled and reassembled for other use purposes. If we could do this and reduce the amount of waste that we are creating, that would be perfect.”
There were plenty of questions coming in from our global audience, with one pointing out that contrary to some opinions, sustainability is not an entirely new concern and that the first Earth Day (the annual event that demonstrates support for environmental protection) took place in 1970.
Greenwashing and transparency were regularly mentioned during the session and Vinodh Sampathkumar, Senior Electrical Engineer at Cundall sees it as very important; “I think the key is to be totally transparent on what the organization is trying to achieve when they say they want to be green. Otherwise we risk falling into the same trap as the food and clothing industry where initiatives have been branded as greenwashing. I think this transparency can cover design, reporting, operational performance, energy use, power and much more."
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