Steve Hayward: Improving CyrusOne’s climate neutral data

Steve Hayward of CyrusOne highlights achievements and sustainability goals in the wake of the company publishing its 2023 sustainability report

Leading global data centre developer and operator, CyrusOne, recently published its 2023 Sustainability Report to highlight company commitments to the environment, the community, and stakeholders. 

The annual report provides insight into CyrusOne’s efforts to build resilience not only in data centre operations, but also within local communities and the natural environment. It also highlights how ESG initiatives support CyrusOne’s business by improving resilience and increasing customer satisfaction.

DataCentre Magazine spoke with Steve Hayward, Vice President of European Operations for CyrusOne on the sustainability report and the company’s continued commitment to ESG reporting and its sustainability achievements.

Renewable power: Protecting the planet via data solutions

CyrusOne specialises in delivering state-of-the-art digital infrastructure solutions. With more than 50 high-performance, mission-critical facilities worldwide, the company ensures the continued operation of digital infrastructure for nearly 1,000 customers, including approximately 200 Fortune 1000 companies.

2022 was a year of key milestones for CyrusOne’s sustainability programs with important achievements in each of its “Big Four” environmental categories: climate, water, biodiversity, and circularity.

When asked about CyrusOne’s sustainability goals for 2023 and how the company got out ahead of the curve, Steve Hayward said: “One key goal was achieving 100% renewable electricity in Europe. 

“As of the end of 2020, we had achieved 100% renewable power for our facilities in London, Dublin, and Amsterdam, and by June 2021, we completed the transition of our Frankfurt facilities operating on renewable power meaning that we met our climate neutral commitments to the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact (CNDCP) eight years ahead of schedule.” 

He continued: “We used four metrics to measure and track our progress - percentage of electricity procured as renewable, percentage of electricity procured as renewable by customers, percentage of electricity paired with renewable certificates and percentage of facilities with renewable options.” 

Another key achievement of CyrusOne was creating a way to save 14,000 MWh of energy each year at a global level. Hayward describes how the company previously achieved this goal in 2022 by performing energy efficiency upgrades at existing facilities, including tile optimisation, humidification system upgrades, UPS upgrades and LED retrofits. 

The future of data centres: Significant biodiversity efforts

Speaking about the future, Hayward said: “Our next goal is to make all of our facilities in high water stress regions into net positive water facilities. We continue to update our multi-year plan to convert all of our facilities that are currently in high-stress regions to net positive water. 

“After we accomplish our net positive water goals, we will continue to purchase water restoration certificates annually to maintain our net positive water status and monitor our Water Risk Assessment for new regions that become high water stress. When they do, we will make a plan to convert facilities in those regions to net positive water facilities.”

The company also confirmed a project for its sixth facility in London, continuing biodiversity efforts and responsible development in the city. The facility will have 23,000sqm of woodland, 64,000sqm of acid grassland, 600+ native planted trees and an attenuated pond resulting in a biodiversity net gain of 130%.

Hayward admitted that, despite 100% renewable electricity, the company “aren’t there yet” with its facilities in the US. He stated that this was “due to the nature of the sites and market making achieving this goal more complex.”

He added, however: “We were proud that during 2022, we executed additional physical renewable power purchases in Texas from a new solar project, which will deliver approximately 76,000 MWh of additional renewable solar power per year, expected to start delivery in 2024. 

“Also during 2022, we executed additional physical renewable power purchases in Texas from a new wind power project, which will deliver approximately 33,500 MWh of additional renewable wind power per year into the power supply portfolio serving our sites, expected to start delivery in 2023.”

CyrusOne: Protection starts from within

CyrusOne also made significant strides regarding the CNDCP as, in April 2023, it was the first to inform the CNDCP board that all its fully operational data centres in Europe had been independently audited to comply with the sustainable terms of the pact.

Hayward stated: “CyrusOne was the first to complete this essential task, well ahead of the formal deadline. For the first signatories, the deadline was 1st July 2023, and CyrusOne announced it had achieved compliance in March 2023.”

He also spoke to the great benefits boasted by using renewable power within the data centre industry and how it can provide risk resilience. 

“Reducing our reliance on energy frees up pressure on the grid and the resulting risk of grid power interruptions as well as how it insulates us from price volatility in the electricity market for years to come,” he said.

“Additionally, having efficient operations allows us to minimise regulatory risk, such as preempting costly adaptation measures with energy-efficient programs in place to meet more stringent regulations in the future.”

Considering the company as a whole, Hayward also highlighted the impact on the CyrusOne workforce, stating that: Our approach to sustainability doesn’t just encapsulate how we are protecting the environment, but also how we are protecting people and enabling them to thrive. Our commitment to social responsibility begins with the well-being of our teammates and the connections we make with each other.”

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