Microsoft said every data center it builds on its own from now on will be certified as LEED Gold – a popular certification for buildings designed to high energy efficiency and overall sustainability standards.
Because certifying every building on its own is a lengthy and expensive process, the company will be using a program the US Green Building Council, which administrates LEED, created to certify buildings built to a common design prototype in bulk.
Data centers are largely similar to each other, goes the thinking, so the LEED Volume program is a good fit for this type of building. Under the program, USGBC issues a LEED certification for a design, streamlining the process of getting certification for all buildings built to that certified design.
The buildings don’t have to be exactly the same, and they don’t all have to be in the same location to be certified under the volume program, as long as the certified prototype captures an appropriate “amount of variance,” while project teams control for the differences.
Microsoft has already developed a standardized set of designs that meet the criteria of a LEED certification for data centers, which USGBC has already certified, Christian Belady, general manager of Microsoft cloud infrastructure and operations, wrote in a blog post announcing the move. And the company plans to make these “blueprints” available to other data center builders.
From the blog post:
By building our new owned datacenters and certifying our existing owned datacenters to this standard, we expect to save energy, water, resources, generate less waste and support human health. And we are proud to pave the way for other datacenter providers to do the same, by using this more efficient model for achieving LEED Gold.
Microsoft’s commitment applies only to existing and future data centers it owns. The company also leases a lot of data center capacity from commercial data center developers and landlords, which represents a substantial portion of its overall footprint.
In addition to energy efficient designs, Microsoft and other operators of hyper-scale cloud platforms also buy renewable energy at utility scale to power their data centers around the world. All major cloud providers have committed to powering their data centers with 100 percent renewable energy.