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5 Apr 2022

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SDIA calls on data centers to publish sustainability information as open data

The European Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA) encourages data centers and other players in the digital infrastructure like telcos to be more transparent about their environmental performance. Further, the alliance expects them to publish as much of their sustainability data as possible as open data, so that researchers, policy makers, and product developers can easily access it.

Increased relevance

SDIA explains in a paper called 'Transparency as a Viable Sustainability Strategy for Data Centers' that due to the Internet's increasing relevance to economics, society and politics, both public and government interest in digital infrastructure is growing - infrastructure that has been considered "invisible" for many years. While the information technology sector is in many parts of the world already heavily regulated, data centers have been flying under the radar for quite some time.

In the near future, this will likely change. This means that facility owners will face increased pressure due to increased government scrutiny and regulations addressing the environmental impacts of fast-growing and largely opaque digital infrastructure.


Frankfurt, Germany, has already begun to regulate the growth of data center facilities to handle the growing resource and electricity consumption. Dublin, Ireland, policymakers went one step further, banning the development of new data centers in the country, while prioritizing their goal of 70% clean energy without compromising their growing production of renewable electricity on new "mega data centers". Amsterdam, The Netherlands - Europe's largest data center hub - stopped the construction of new data centers between 2019 and 2020.

It is therefore in their own interests that data centers become more transparent about how they function, especially as it relates to sustainability.

Open data

SDIA believes that the best way to become more transparent is to publish operational data and make this information available as open data. Digital infrastructure actors - from data centers and fiber networks to hardware manufacturers and software developers - can become more transparent and create open data to enable better collaboration, enable researchers to find innovative solutions to systemic challenges, and ensure that governments understand challenges, the improvements made, and foster trust in actors delivering progress for reducing digital infrastructure's environmental impact.

Photo credit: Jonathan Kemper

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