Anticipated Data Center Sustainability Trends Set to Define the Industry in 2024″

Investments in the sustainability of data centers have become so ingrained that they no longer seem like mere trends. The focus on making data centers more sustainable has persisted for years, driven not only by the imperative to meet Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals but also because sustainability improvements align with reduced energy costs and enhanced data center reliability.

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Anticipated Data Center

As we embark on a new year, Anticipated Data Center operators are actively exploring novel approaches to further advance sustainability. Here’s an overview of key data center sustainability trends to monitor in 2024 and beyond:

Shift Away from Carbon Offsets
In the past, the go-to method for mitigating the carbon footprint of data centers involved purchasing carbon offsets. These offsets allowed businesses to compensate for their carbon emissions by funding environmentally friendly initiatives elsewhere. However, this practice is facing growing criticism for not consistently delivering the claimed positive impact. In 2024, anticipate increased scrutiny of carbon offsets, with mounting pressure on data center operators to distance themselves from this approach.

Investment in Green AI Infrastructure
Addressing the demands of artificial intelligence (AI) workloads is a priority for many data centers, given the widespread interest in AI model training and deployment. However, the energy-intensive nature of AI training poses challenges to sustainability efforts. Consequently, there is likely to be a surge in investment in “green AI infrastructure” within data centers in the coming year. This may involve the adoption of custom processors designed to minimize the energy consumption associated with AI workloads.

Elevated Focus on Water Efficiency
While discussions about sustainability in the data center industry have traditionally centered on energy efficiency and clean power sources, a shift is expected. Concerns about water resource limitations are likely to prompt data center operators to reassess and reduce their water consumption or explore more efficient water reuse practices. Energy efficiency and clean sourcing will remain crucial, but water conservation is poised to take on a more prominent role.

Increased Emphasis on Sustainability Metrics Reporting
Growing interest in water use efficiency, coupled with other factors, will likely compel data center operators to provide more comprehensive data on their sustainability achievements. Following Amazon Web Services’ lead, which released water use metrics last year, there will likely be heightened pressure for other data center operators to disclose similar information. Regulatory requirements, exemplified by California’s climate-related disclosure mandates for data centers, may set the stage for broader adoption globally.

Adoption of Quantum Computing for Sustainability
Although quantum computing is not yet fully mature, it is on the verge of becoming more prominent, with companies already planning quantum data centers. While 2024 may not mark the widespread adoption of quantum computers within data centers, the process has arguably begun. Quantum computers are anticipated to bring a revolution to the sustainability landscape by consuming significantly less energy compared to conventional processors while delivering comparable computing power.

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