Meta at 20: Community, Innovation & Journeying Past Net Zero

We Look at how Meta Ensures That its Data Centres Continue to Develop Sustainably, From Working With Local Communities to Harnessing NVIDIA Chips

Prior to its twentieth birthday in February 2024, Meta is only continuing to innovate.

In fact, Meta’s data centres are a large part of its global infrastructure that aims to bring technologies and services to life around the world. In line with its recent sustainability strategy, the company is aiming to become water positive across all of its operations by 2030.

Meta’s global operations, including its data centres and offices, are supported by 100% renewable energy and reached net zero emissions in 2020. As reported by our sister publication Sustainability Magazine in December 2023, the technology company is now working towards implementing net zero across its entire value chain. 

Data centres empowering local communities

Meta’s portfolio of more than 10,000 MW of contracted renewable energy projects makes it one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy globally, in addition to the largest operating portfolio in the U.S., with more than 5,500 MW online.

The tech giant stated in its 2023 Sustainability Report that its data centres are powered by 100% renewable energy and are among the most efficient in the world, having at least earned a LEED Gold certification. 

Moving forward, Meta aims to redesign data centres to better leverage the power of AI, highlighting that this will be more cost-effective and provide greater flexibility for its customers. The company has recently ramped up its AI efforts, planning to have approximately 350,000 H100 GPUs from chip designer NVIDIA by the end of 2024.

With regards to its increased water consumption as a result of technological advancements, Meta has stated that it will restore 200% of the water it consumes in high water stress areas, in addition to 100% of the water it consumes in medium water stress areas.

This proposal involves returning 621 million gallons of water per year.

In addition to its sustainability-led practices, as part of its transformation, Meta is also aiming to provide quality job opportunities for the local communities its data centre operates in. It states that it has introduced 24,000 jobs and supported US$1.8bn in labour income so far.

The company is keen to help schools and local communities thrive, in addition to its digital transformation efforts. 

AI data centres with a sustainable edge

In the wider global data centre landscape, it is important for those within the industry to accelerate their renewable power strategies to combat sustainability challenges. This will be particularly important in 2024, as a recent study suggested that AI could be on track to consume as much electricity as the entire country of the Republic of Ireland per year.

Meta already holds a data centre facility in the country, having invested €1.4bn (US$1.53bn) in the local community, in addition to procuring 730MW of new wind and solar energy for local grids to support its renewable operations.

The Republic of Ireland was actually the subject of much discussion in the data centre industry last year (2023), with companies like Google and Microsoft investing in facilities in the country. Electricity in the Republic of Ireland has risen by 400% since 2015, with data centres using almost a fifth of the nation's electricity.

Mark Yeeles, Vice President, Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric UK & Ireland, says: “To solve Ireland’s energy and ESG challenges, we need immediate, sustainable action, where government and industry collaborate more closely, and combine existing technologies with innovative engineering to future proof the country’s energy, economic, and technological outlook.

“As we look forwards, renewables and digitalisation are two of the key vectors to solve the climate and energy challenges, and by integrating data centre infrastructure with the grid, and using the industry as a catalyst for sustainable change, we can accelerate the production and adoption of green renewable power, and solve Ireland’s energy challenges simultaneously.”

This type of local investment sets technology organisations like Meta apart, as it demonstrates a keenness to facilitate further economic growth in the regions that their data centres operate in.

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