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Sustainability its top priority for Data centre operators, say JLL

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JLL has published a new report that found that 85% of data centre managers in Asia-Pacific believe that sustainability will significantly impact their operations and decision-making.

Demand for data centres has grown exponentially due to the widespread adoption of digital communications and e-commerce. In line with this the amount of energy used by data centres doubles every four years and the sector now accounts for up to 4% of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

According to the report, only 28% of operators have visibility of their energy usage data, which is required to add business value, maximise efficiency and reduce waste.

“Asia Pacific is arguably the most dynamic data centre market globally and strategies will need to adjust to meet the changing operating environment and increased ESG expectations," said Chris Street, head of data centres, Asia-Pacific at JLL.

"The sector urgently needs to address its expanding contribution to global emissions, so operators need advice along the entire real estate life cycle – from site selection to investment to facilities management – in order to address the sizable sustainability issues they face.”

Further, the report reveals that becoming more sustainable and socially responsible is the top strategic priority for data centres over the next two years, beating out traditional productivity and efficiency metrics.

In order to meet net-zero carbon ambitions, owners and operators will focus on technologies that reduce power consumption, minimise waste, and rely more on renewable energy sources to power this asset class. Specifically, 50% of respondents say they will implement AI-powered cooling technology in their data centre by 2023.

In addition, participants said they are re-evaluating construction aspects of their data centres in order to achieve climate neutrality, particularly minimising carbon-intense materials such as steel and concrete.

“The growth of data centres in Asia Pacific comes with a mounting environmental cost but provides necessary impetus for investors and operators to enact more sustainability-based operational and development practices," said Kamya Miglani, head of ESG research, Asia-Pacific at JLL.

"As more data centres are required regionally, the conversation will inevitably shift towards greening the real estate supporting this sector and alignment with more aggressive ESG strategies.”

On the investment side of things, institutional investors will look not only for a stable income stream, but increasingly positioning ESG as a major consideration for any investment decision.

The lack of global data centre standards makes is a challenge in reporting in-depth ESG metrics, however the responsibility is on operators to develop their own key performance indicators (KPIs) to build investor trust.

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