As a leading technology infrastructure and data center colocation provider, Switch’s most important opportunity to impact global climate change is to reduce the impacts associated with the electricity used to power our data centers. Switch has been tirelessly committed to powering its data centers with 100% renewable power. Since January, 2016, all Switch data centers have run on 100% renewable energy in all of our Prime Campus locations.
Business Case for Going 100% Green
Switch has always made sustainability a top priority and been an industry leader in this regard. Our commitment to sustainability leadership and 100% renewable energy is not only a social and environmental imperative, but also provides significant competitive advantages and cost savings for Switch, as described below.
In May 2017, Switch paid an “impact fee” of $27 million to NV Energy, the company’s energy provider in Nevada. This enabled Switch to become an unbundled purchaser of energy in Nevada, allowing the company to pursue open-market alternatives for procuring and purchasing renewable power at a reduced cost. This additional flexibility in energy procurement allowed Switch to recoup its $27 million impact fee expense within less than two years of operations, and has resulted in over $40 million of total power-related cost savings as of December, 2020.
As this savings is shared with our customers, we believe our ability to offer 100% green energy at a significantly lower cost compared to our peers provides a unique competitive advantage for Switch. Moreover, as enterprise customers continue to focus more acutely on their own sustainability initiatives, we believe our market leadership in low-cost renewable power will prove increasingly critical in the years to come.
In addition to the ongoing competitive and financial benefits described above, Switch also receives energy efficiency rebates annually from our local utility providers. The company is able to qualify for these rebates because of the reduced energy usage associated with our patented and customized data center equipment, including air handling units, power distribution systems, and overall efficiency of our designs and processes.
Customer Eco-Efficiency Program and Transparency
Switch’s customers deploy their compute, server, storage, and networking equipment into Switch’s data centers, maintaining the ability to manage and operate their own equipment. Switch has little influence over the environmental profile of its customers’ deployments, but make it a priority to provide customers with a variety of tools and data to manage their own energy use. Through Switch’s “Living Data Center” portal, customers have access to both real-time and historical energy use, by server and by rack, inside Switch data centers. Therefore, any customer can optimize their code, equipment, and data processing requests so as to minimize energy use. Our systems also provide customers with real-time access to energy usage data for transparency and reporting purposes.
Switch provides its clients with a Sustainability Certificate for using 100% Renewable Energy within the Switch ecosystem. This certificate demonstrates that Switch has retired Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) on behalf of our clients, enabling them to designate their energy consumption from any Switch data center as 100% renewable. These RECs comply with Greenpeace’s principles of locality, additionality, and sustainability; and were generated by Nevada solar farms in 2019. Click here for more information on Switch’s sustainability initiatives.
Waste Disposal and Recycling
Switch is committed to an annual review of its environmental impact of all business operations, and will seek cost-effective ways to minimize our impact on the environment which includes options for waste and recycling. As with GHG emissions and water, we pursue many opportunities to align our long-term financial interests with responsible waste disposal.
We pride ourselves on our commitment to sustainability and it is our corporate policy to purchase all “green” or 100% recycled items where available. This policy includes the recycling of business waste through a series of recycling programs.
Examples of our eco-friendly waste programs are provided below:
We now measure and track all waste at each of our data center campus locations, including single stream recycling, secure paper shredding, electronic waste and battery recycling, municipal solid waste, and construction waste. These tracking capabilities will enable us to better quantify the impacts of various process improvements and continue to improve the environmental sustainability of our operations.
Below is a table of quantitative metrics regarding our waste disposal and recycling program, covering all company operations across each of our data center campus locations.
Water Conservation and Water Recycling
Switch’s proprietary water processing technology allows Switch to reuse its water, eliminates chemicals from its cooling systems and increases efficiency 400%; generating savings of more than 155 gallons of water in just the past three years.
Switch is leading the development of a 4000-acre-foot effluent water pipeline in Northern Nevada, scheduled for completion in 2022, allowing the company to run its Citadel data center campus on 100% recycled/effluent water.
Awards and Recognition for Leadership in Renewable Energy
Switch has received the following third-party awards and recognition for its energy efficiency initiatives:
2019 EPA Green Power Leadership Award: The agency’s annual awards recognize America’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market. EPA presented Switch with an Excellence in Green Power Use Award in September, 2019.
Greenpeace Clicking Clean Report: Switch became the world’s first multi-tenant data center operator to receive all “A” grades in sustainability from Greenpeace in its 2017 Clicking Clean Report. As the only company in its class to achieve a 100% clean energy index score, Switch was recognized as the “definitive leader among colocation operators for its efforts to transition its data center fleet to renewables as fast as possible through a combination of renewable energy procurement and aggressive advocacy”.
Switch reveres the principles of additionality, locality, sustainability, advocacy, and compassionate stewardship in its power procurement, use and operations. Switch is committed to the highest standards of environmental performance and sustainable design in all of our data centers, in the general course of day-to-day business and to improving the company’s performance over time. Sustainability is central to our business philosophy, and is the guiding principal to our data center designs and operations. Our founder and CEO has more than 500 patents and patent pending claims that not only help us deliver 100% uptime for our clients, but are equally focused on energy efficiency and sustainability innovation.
Switch’s sustainability sitting policy includes unyielding commitments to:
To review the formal policy, click here.
Switch leads these initiatives from the top. Under the direction and vision of our CEO, Switch’s EVP of Strategy and EVP of Policy develop the programs and practices we implement in support of sustainability. Team members within the Strategy and Policy departments contribute to these initiatives on a day-to-day basis, and all Switch employees support our company posture to operate as green as possible. Switch’s CEO reviews strategic sustainability plans and overall progress on a regular basis with sustainability of the planet as a constant priority for Switch.
As a global leader in sustainable data center design and operations, and viewed as a thought leader for corporate citizenship, Switch is committed to procuring goods and services in a manner that enhances the sustainability profiles of our data centers and our operations. We implement this commitment by working collaboratively with suppliers of our most important and impactful commodities to ensure our purchases meet the highest environmental performance standards, as required by our industry-leading specifications. This includes, but is not limited to, commodities such as energy, water, air handlers, lighting, roofing, and building sensors. Switch’s CEO and founder Rob Roy says “data runs the planet® and we want to ensure it doesn’t ruin the planet.”
Switch’s efficiency technologies require seamless construction efforts often involving land management, and performance oversight. Switch is very selective when identifying and managing the suppliers involved in its construction efforts. Building a new data center is a large, complex construction effort involving land management, multi-year planning, and careful management and oversight of contractor performance to maintain design and operational integrity for the infrastructure that power the digital world.
Switch’s Chief Construction Officer leads the performance of construction suppliers across the company – with the oversight of Switch’s Inventor, Founder and CEO Rob Roy. The construction team procures and selects firms to complete all phases of data center construction. Contracts with these suppliers include legally binding requirements to comply with Switch’s rigorous development standards, permit conditions, and land use authority rules, and above all to protect Switch’s and its clients’ confidential information and trade secrets. All contractor performance is monitored by a licensed third-party inspection, testing and management agency at each Prime Campus location. Additionally, the third-party agency is managed by our internal certified Qualified Compliance Inspector of Stormwater and Preparer of Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans. Inspections are conducted on a weekly basis unless an unexpected event occurs that requires an inspection to be conducted sooner to stay in accordance with any and all local, County, State and/or Federal requirements. If suppliers were to breach their obligations they would be promptly notified and managed through appropriate contractual, monetary, or legal actions should the case arise. This includes setting deadlines for remedial actions or improvements, as possible.
To review the formal policy, click here.
Switch prepares a detailed greenhouse gas inventory each year, and publishes the results on the sustainability section of our corporate website. The scope of our review includes all direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2) emission sources, as defined by the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting & Reporting Standard. The GHG Protocol is the most widely used tool for quantifying GHG emissions and has been adopted throughout the world.
The boundary of the inventory extends to all assets under Switch’s operational control. Generally, emissions calculations are based upon quantitative data sources such as purchase records, metering equipment, and service records. Emission sources include our electricity supply (both location-based and market-based emissions are reported), renewable energy purchases and retirements, onsite diesel combustion for backup generation, relevant refrigerants used in our cooling systems, and motor vehicles used in support of site operations.
Switch’s primary focus in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions is to ensure all data centers remain 100% renewably power – even as the company grows. In 2019, greenhouse gas emissions from Switch’s electricity use would have represented more than 98% of its greenhouse gas footprint had the company not committed to renewable energy. Switch’s 2019 greenhouse gas footprint from all other in-scope sources totals just over 5300 metric tons.
Switch is committed to reducing its footprint from minor sources. For example, Switch has improved its inventory and record-keeping processes for coolant management and minimizes the use of its diesel generators.
Since Switch’s founding in the early 2000s, the risks of climate change and the need to create a low-carbon economy have influenced the company’s strategy and operations. With this in mind, the transition to a digital/low-carbon economy presents little systemic risk to Switch’s business and Switch has often positioned our self as a catalyst helping to bring about a low-carbon economy sooner as opposed to later.
Switch’s primary risk exposure from the transition to a low-carbon economy comes from changes to electricity markets and prices which may result from modifications to the electricity regulatory environment, direct regulation of carbon emissions, or other factors. Switch actively monitors these variables including as the founder member of the Smart Energy Alliance in Nevada. Switch’s anticipates its customers and potential customers will likely become increasingly desirous to seek low-carbon suppliers across their supply chains.
For these and other reasons, it is Switch’s policy that its data centers be powered by 100% renewable energy from their first day in operation. Since 2016 Switch has supplied its operations exclusively with 100% renewable power, including establishing long-term contracts with energy generators and electricity suppliers for renewable power. The transition to low-carbon energy sources across the grid, and the increasing demand for low-carbon operations from customers, will affect Switch less than they will affect similarly energy-intensive businesses that have not already built renewable energy into their supply practices. For Switch, low-carbon energy is business-as-usual.
Switch’s management of the climate-related aspects of its electricity supply are actively managed by the company’s senior leadership. Switch Founder and CEO Rob Roy leads and is responsible for Switch’s sustainability profile with hands-on oversight. Rob Roy has designed and patented energy efficiency innovations deployed throughout the company’s data centers, and actively manages the company’s sustainability progress, from electricity contracts to data center siting decisions.
As a data center provider, managing any risks within our ability to operate is fundamental to Switch’s core business. Physical risks related to climate change such as frequent severe weather events, rising sea levels, increased flooding, droughts, consistently higher heat levels, and disruptions to supporting infrastructure such as electrical service due to these events, are managed using Rob Roy’s patented designs and through core business processes throughout the company. Examples include:
For more information, please click here.
Since considering and mitigating the risks of extreme events (of all kinds) is a routine responsibility of Switch’s planning, operations, and executive teams, specialized reporting and management of climate change risks, as a category, would be unproductive and is unnecessary. Physical threats to the data center from all foreseeable causes are routinely planned for, drilled, and managed. Switch’s Founder and CEO Rob Roy oversees the company’s facility design and construction alongside Switch’s Chief Construction Officer, who continually works to develop and implement data center design improvements and advances in equipment, systems and processes to create the most advanced data center ecosystem in the world.
Switch maintains a library of additional policies and procedures to ensure its services are Tier 5 Platinum compliant and meet Switch’s aggressive sustainability standards. Switch secures these policies on site, to avoid the security risks of espionage, terrorism, sabotage, and cyber attack, inherent in unauthorized duplication, proliferation, or exploitation of these policies. If you would like additional detail or an on-site tour of Switch’s facilities to inspect these policies, please contact the Investor Relations Team (email@example.com) or the Switch Policy team (firstname.lastname@example.org).