Eleven years after the term was first coined, Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) finally takes its place in the sun with the world’s largest cloud service provider committing to report on this metric annually. AWS today committed to report on its WUE every year. It also pledged to be water positive, which means providing more water to the environment than it consumes, by 2030.
Microsoft was the first of the big three CSPs to commit to water positive operations back in 2020. Google Cloud’s goal is to run all its data centers with carbon-free energy, meaning it will use clean energy to manage its water. No commitments have come from Google, yet, around WUE but the firm has shared its vision for water stewardship in September 2021.
“This is another important step in the holistic approach to sustainability by the hyperscale data center providers,” Liz Cruz, director of data center programs at Informa, told Data Center Knowledge. “There’s recognition that an exclusive focus on electricity use avoids critical impacts that data centers have on the environment.”
Why 2030 Is Shaping Up to Be a Water Positive, Carbon-Free Year
The top CSPs all committed to lofty sustainability goals by the year 2030. This is borne out of the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” an initiative to leverage sustainable development for the cause of improving quality of life for all. That includes ending poverty, attaining gender equality, and protecting global resources. Every UN member state has committed to the initiative’s sustainability goals and, apparently, so have the big three cloud solution providers.
The cloud computing market will reach $1.55 trillion in value by 2030, according to Grand View Research. With the focus on measuring and better managing water usage, CSPs signal a connection between profits and sustainability efforts. It’s also a sign the CSPs have heard the concerns of their customers and shareholders around sustainability and the firms’ impact on the environment.
And while the top CSPs have been competing against each other with sustainability feats of strength, hyperscaler Facebook was one of the early leaders in the 2030 water stewardship efforts. Facebook’s parent company Meta announced in 2015 its alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2021. In its announcement, the firm also pledged water positivity by 2030.
Facebook has been publishing its WUE since 2014.
Updated headline and paragraph two on November 29, 2022 at 11:09 a.m. to clarify Google's water management stance. Updated Liz Cruz's title on November 29, 2022 at 11:15 a.m. It was originally reported as AFCOM instead of Informa. Liz Cruz oversees the AFCOM program as part of her duties at Informa.