Digital infrastructure needs a cool location

Apr 23, 2024

DataCloud’s ESG Summit was held in Iceland for the first time this year and was well received by all who attended. As Diamond sponsor atNorth was delighted to share its experiences of utilizing the naturally cool climate to enable highly energy efficient cooling of digital infrastructure and to delve into key themes that might help to mitigate the impact on the environment of our industry.

I was privileged to take part in the keynote panel entitled Redefining ESG, a global approach – why this matters more than ever’ to outline the Environmental, Social and Governance practices that atNorth continues to incorporate into the very heart of our business.

With new legislation such as CSRD (which will ensure that many EU companies disclose their impact on the environment to help consumers and investors make sustainable choices) it is more important than ever to align ESG initiatives with corporate strategy.

atNorth already utilizes the most energy efficient infrastructure, cooling and heat reuse technologies. We promote diversity, support charitable initiatives and encourage collaboration. We have a specialized board stream dedicated to sustainability and we are members of many industry bodies to help guide the sustainable future of the data center industry — such as the Icelandic, Finnish and Swedish Data Center Associations, the Infrastructure Masons Climate Accord (a coalition united on carbon reduction in digital infrastructure) and the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact.

But is it enough?
Many of the discussions at the event echoed the difficulty of adhering to a myriad of different guidelines and frameworks. Yet, to echo a comment made by Abbas Shahim, Global Head of Sustainability at Eviden, it is not enough to rely on regulations to save the world. We should all be aiming to improve our practices for a more sustainable, environmentally friendly industry.

On the flip side, regulations can be a great motivator, or at least the repercussions of not adhering to them! Many were in agreement that the industry needs to catch up and do better when it comes to reporting on our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and reaching Net Zero goals. atNorth would agree that enabling the necessary tools for transparent and accurate reporting should be incorporated into new data centers at the planning stage — rather than an afterthought that is more difficult to resolve.

Another interesting comment was made by Deborah Graham-Wilson, Head of Communications & ESG at Eland Cables who suggested that in order to make a claim that your business will be Net Zero by a certain date, you must make sure that your whole supply chain is also in sync with this promise – now is the time to take action if we are to meet these goals.

This statement is very close to our hearts at atNorth and we endeavour to collaborate with all businesses to ensure that they are aligned to our sustainability goals and objectives. In support of this, atNorth client, Crusoe, gave an insightful presentation at the summit outlining the increasing need for power resulting from the mounting demand for AI workloads. They are in the process of moving their workloads to one of atNorth’s data centers in Iceland as part of their mission to align the future of computing with the future of the climate. Iceland, like many other countries in the Nordic region, is an ideal location for high-density data centers due to the abundance of renewable energy, beneficial climate, excellent connectivity and highly skilled workforce. 

The summit has reinforced atNorth’s dedication to ESG as we continue to work in partnership with our peers, partners and customers to strive towards a greener future. Thank you to Broadgroup for an inspirational and thought provoking event. 

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