Bank of America Endorses Data Center Clean Energy Buying Principles

Joins group of corporate data center users demanding colo services powered by renewable energy

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

April 3, 2017

3 Min Read
Bank of America tower, 2014, New York City
Bank of America tower, 2014, New York CityRobin Marchant/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Bank of America is the latest company to join the group of large users of data center and cloud services who support a formal set of principles designed to encourage their service providers to power data centers with renewable energy.

The Future of Internet Power group, whose members include Adobe, Facebook, and Salesforce, among others, says it aims to “power the internet with 100 percent renewable energy.” The bank is the first financial-services company to join the group, as well as the first member that did not participate in the creation of the principles.

“It’s a good tipping point, having Bank of America’s support,” Kelly Gallo, manager at Businesses for Social Responsibility, the non-profit that spearheaded development of the principles, said in an interview with Data Center Knowledge. It sends the signal that the initiative is not only for tech companies, she explained.

Bank of America becomes the sixteenth member of the group at a time of uncertainty about the future of the US renewable energy market, in which many data center users and operators have already invested billions in efforts to clean up the energy supply that powers their infrastructure.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration was a big proponent of renewable energy and gave a lot of support to the development of the renewable energy market. The view of the current White House is radically different.

President Donald Trump last week signed an executive order aiming to roll back much of the Obama-era climate regulation, including the Clean Power Plan, a set of new greenhouse gas emission regulations for power plants. Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget would defund CPP.

See also: Largest Data Center Providers Quiet on Clean Energy Plans after Trump’s Climate Order

Price of renewable energy has come down in recent years, making it a viable alternative for large-scale energy buyers like data center operators. Uncertainty about the future of coal has added to the business case for renewables.

BSR’s Future of Internet Power group developed its Corporate Colocation and Cloud Buyers’ Principles to articulate the requirements of major corporate data center users whose sustainability programs include plans for powering their data centers with renewable energy. Since most big companies use a mix of in-house and leased data centers, they need their data center providers’ help in cleaning up their energy supply.

The principles consist of offering cost-competitive services powered by renewable energy, regular reporting of data center energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, collaborating with customers on energy efficiency, working on incentives to reduce energy consumption, improving transparency, and advocating for policy in support of renewable energy.

Several data center providers have voiced verbal support for the principles, although a formalized process for providers to endorse the document is still being developed, Gallo said. Those providers are Equinix, Switch, Aligned Energy, Green Mountain, and Infomart.

On Monday, the data center services division of Iron Mountain announced that it has contracted for enough renewable energy to offset consumption by all three of its data center sites in the US.

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