Originally Published on the ECOreport
Digital Realty’s Clean Start Program was designed to give new clients access to clean energy. Everyone signing a new lease in 2015 will automatically be enrolled and receive green energy certificates for the amount of electricity they use during their first year. After the introductory year is over, clients can opt to continue in the program for cost.
The idea originated with Digital Realty’s clients. Many were interested in using clean energy to power their data centers, but also concerned about the cost and complexities.
“After we heard that from a few clients, we thought maybe we can bring some of our knowledge to the table to solve this need for customers. That was the genesis of it, to make something simple that was perceived as complex and costly,” said Aaron Binkley, director of sustainability at Digital Realty.
We’ve been following clean energy for a long time. It is less costly than what many people think. One of the myths that is pretty widely spread in the industry is that clean energy is always more expensive than non-renewable energy. We think that’s often not the case. In some cases, renewable energy is extremely competitive with traditional forms of power generation.
In 2014, Digital Realty procured 2.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to power its self-managed data center portfolio. About 20% of this total, nearly 500 million kilowatt-hours, were provided by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
“Some customers use their data center very intensively, in which case their energy usage can be very high. Others use it less often, as a storage type of operation,” said Binkley. “We will be purchasing certificates throughout the year, to match the customer’s participation in this program. Once the 12 month period is over, we will tally up the numbers.“
It is not certain which renewable projects will be chosen for the certificates, but they will most likely contain a mix.
“We think this will be a first step toward moving customers towards clean energy over the long term, not just for the term of this program,” said Binkley. “We hope that after the first year is over, customers will choose to continue receiving clean energy.”
Digital Realty supports the data center and colocation strategies of more than 600 firms throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. CenturyLink, IBM, telx, Equinix, AT&T, MorganStanley, Deutsche Bank, Google, Amazon and Verizon are among their major clients.
Photo Credits: Digital Realty’s 365 Main Street data center facility, in San Francisco
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