A data center industry group has responded to today's launch of an environmental group calling for limits to facilities in Virginia.

The Data Center Coalition said that data centers enable the 21st century economy, and defended their record on community involvement, after the Virginia Data Center Reform Coalition had called for limits to data center development, saying that campuses are being built in "inappropriate locations," and consume excessive amounts of water and power.

rivana at innovation station.jpg
– Loudoun Economic Development

“Data centers provide the digital infrastructure that supports our 21st-century economy," said Josh Levi, president of the Data Center Coalition. "They enable apps, platforms, and services we rely on every day to keep us safe and connected in our modern digital lives, from transportation and banking to public safety, education, and life-saving medical care. The data center industry is growing to meet the collective computing demands of individuals and organizations of all sizes."

The Reform Coalition has complained that data center developments hid behind a "veil of secrecy forged by nondisclosure agreements," and "failed to prioritize community concerns."

Levy responded that his group's members are "committed to growing the industry in a manner that prioritizes investments in local communities," adding that the sector employs hundreds of construction professionals as facilities are built, and provides "quality, high-wage jobs" when the data centers are up and running.

"Every data center comes with years of reliable support for local economies – including everything from restaurants, hotels, rental car agencies, and fiber and HVAC installers, to many other small businesses," said Levy.

He lauded data center owners and operators for their "leadership and commitment to decarbonization through clean energy," and pointed out that consumers need data center services for clean energy gadgets such as smart thermostats, smart meters, automated lighting, and household appliances.

Levy welcomed the Reform Coalition's call for a state-led study into the cumulative impact of data centers, adding: "The data center industry takes accountability seriously and works closely with the many local, state, regional, and federal bodies responsible for permitting and project approvals, regulation in environmental, safety and other key areas, and oversight."

A recent study by global consulting firm PwC, quoted by Levy's group, found that the Virginia data center industry contributed more than 17,000 direct jobs and more than 86,000 total jobs (direct, indirect, and induced) in 2021, providing $7.9 billion in total labor income in 2021, and adding $13.5 billion to Virginia’s GDP in 2021.

The sector invested some $37 billion in Virginia during 2022 and 2023, according to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.