Publications

- November 1, 2021: Vol. 33, Number 10

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Green data: How these high-energy facilities are ticking the boxes in ESG

by Kali Persall

When British mathematician and data science entrepreneur Clive Humby coined the phrase “data is the new oil” in 2006, he could have been lauded as something of a prognosticator, given the colossal scale at which development and demand for the data center market would evolve over the next decade and a half.

The market has grown to become one of the most attractive emerging investment sectors for infrastructure and real estate investors alike, yet questions persist about how facilities with such high energy needs can still tick the boxes when investors’ portfolios are focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.

In 2006, the data center sector consumed an estimated 61 terawatt hours — or 1.5 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption — for a total electricity cost of about $4.5 billion, according to a data center report to Congress by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The estimated level of electricity consumption for that year was

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