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In this photo illustration, a silhouetted woman holds a smartphone with the Schneider Electric logo displayed on the screen. SOPA Images Limited / Alamy

Data Center Greenwashing: Schneider Launches Tools to Help Avoid Fines

Schneider Electric launched a series of tools to address recently proposed SEC rule changes affecting data center operators.

Power management giant Schneider Electric has released a series of tools for its MSP and data center customers to provide to their customers with proof of compliance with emissions standards.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed rule changes that would require registrants to include certain climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on their business. Concerns about penalties along with the pressure of the overall sustainability movement has led to a fear of “greenwashing,” where companies make claims of being climate-friendly but aren’t.

To avoid greenwashing fines, Schneider plans to provide customers with the tools to generate comprehensive data on their emissions and “what-if” scenarios to predict the impact of new products, technologies, and their operations.

“The challenge right now is companies want to appear to be sustainable, and try to gain some sort of an advantage over others, yet there's no real accountability to what you say,” said Carsten Baumann, director of strategic initiatives & solutions architect at Schneider Electric. 

Right now, he notes, there is no penalty for greenwashing other than perhaps bad publicity if a company gets exposed. “It reminds me a little bit about taxes. You can write on your tax return form whatever you want, until you get audited. Then you have to prove, you know, like what's true and what's not true,” he said.

The SEC proposal on emissions compliance is expected to require companies to provide three elements in their climate disclosure: first is the climate related risks to their business. Second, they have to disclose the greenhouse gas emissions in the operation. Third, they have to also adhere to some kind of climate related metrics, which is where the Schneider tools come in.

There are three tools and documents total. The first is a product environmental declaration document that is a declaration which stipulates the entire impact of a product or service in its lifecycle called product environmental profile (PEP). That is a document which clearly stipulates what kind of materials were used in the making of a product, how much Schneider used to produce it and how much electricity it used to produce it.

Baumann said it includes not only in the manufacturing and the installation impact, but also in the operational side. “If you buy a product and you use it for 10 years, the usage itself has an impact. And then by the end of its life … you can know what is the impact when we take this product back: ‘Can it be repurposed or reused?’ It can potentially even prolong its life,” he said.

Schneider also has two online greenhouse gas emission calculators. One is a simple calculator looking at the data center’s carbon footprint, where company's data center operators can enter their IT load and how much they pay for electricity, which tells them their CO2 emissions associated with the electricity they are buying. 

The other one is brand new, published about a month ago. It's called the Data Center Lifecycle carbon dioxide calculator, which has a more granular examination of the infrastructure, looking at Scope one, two and three emissions. 

The calculators can be found herewhile the PEP white paper is here.

Andy Patrizio is a veteran technology journalist of 30 years, covering a wide range of subjects for publications such as Network World, Computerworld, InformationWeek, Ars Technica and Business Insider. He is based in Orange County, California.

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