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Sustainability

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 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.

Switch paid an “impact fee” of $27 million to NV Energy. 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 clients, we believe our ability to offer 100% green energy compared to our peers provides a unique competitive advantage for Switch. As enterprise clients continue to focus more acutely on their own sustainability initiatives, we believe our market leadership in low-cost renewable power will prove to be 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.

“Improving the energy efficiency of our nation’s data centers has become more critical than ever as our digital economy expands. Switch’s data centers are among the most efficient in the industry, and we also commend the company for its use of renewable energy in powering its data centers.”
– Jean Lupinacci, Chief of the ENERGY STAR Commercial & Industrial Branch

CLIENT ECO-EFFICIENCY PROGRAM AND TRANSPARENCY

Switch’s clients 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 clients’ deployments, but make it a priority to provide clients with a variety of tools and data to manage their own energy use. Through Switch’s Living Data Center portal, clients have access to both real-time and historical energy use, by server and by rack, inside Switch data centers. Our systems provide clients with real-time access to energy usage data for transparency and reporting purposes and clients can optimize their equipment and data processing requests to minimize energy use.

Switch provides its clients with a Sustainability Certificate for using 100% renewable energy within our technology 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.

“By moving our data center to a Switch facility that eliminates 265,000 carbon tons of emissions from the environment, we’re able to ensure our viewers can reliably stream The Handmaid’s Tale or Monday Night Football while moving towards green and sustainable operations with our data centers.”

SOURCE: Hulu TECH BLOG


For sustainability press releases issued with our clients please click here.

 

THE SUSTAINABILITY TEAM

Switch leads sustainability initiatives from the top. Under the direction and vision of our CEO, Switch’s EVP of Policy and Energy Team develop the programs and practices we implement in support of sustainability. Team members within the Energy 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.

For policy-related risks, Switch’s energy team – overseen by its EVP of Policy – has two staff members dedicated to tracking, assessing, and as necessary implementing policies and programs related to climate change. These staff identify new threats and opportunities through participation in industry organizations, engagement with non-profits, active public policy work in data center communities, and engagement with our client facing and investor-facing company teams. Issues and opportunities are raised as they arise to the EVP of Policy and at least annually through Switch’s annual planning process during which resources are allocated for new initiatives and programs.

Climate-related policy risks sit alongside other important company matters such as data security, physical security, intellectual property protection, and other similar matters in the annual planning processes, and assessed in their materiality to the company as part of resource allocation decisions. When risks and opportunities are identified for action, the climate and energy program team is responsible for implementing programs as required. See Climate Risk Management section below for additional information.

 

WASTE DISPOSAL AND RECYCLING

Switch is committed to performing 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:

  • E-waste is recycled through a third-party firm in accordance with applicable federal state and local regulations and within the guidelines of R2 (Responsible Recycling), eStewards and ISO 14001
  • All used UPS/Generator batteries are recycled through an EPA certified third-party battery recycling company. This encompasses 100% of our hazardous waste generation
  • We implemented a wood pallet recycling initiative that drove a significant reduction in our overall landfill waste volume
  • We recycle all scrap wire and metal from our construction sites
  • We leverage third-party software vendors to securely e-sign and process documents
  • Recycling containers are provided throughout our offices and data center facilities for the disposal of recyclable waste
  • All offices have shred bins for paper which is destroyed and recycled by a third-party
  • All employees are provided with reusable recycled bottles that can be filled from Switch provided water filtration stations in our workplaces
  • All employees are given a Switch cinch bag made from recycled material
  • Water bottles provided for onsite client visits are made from 100% recycled materials
  • Switch “SWAG store” items are packaged in 100% recycled plastic

 
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, eliminate chemicals from its cooling systems and increases efficiency by 400%; generating savings of more than 155 million gallons of water in just the past three years.

Switch is leading the development of a 4,000-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.

This project has many benefits to the community, environment and all parties involved:

  • Reduction of nitrates that would otherwise be put into the Truckee River, protecting local wildlife and certain endangered species
  • Elimination of a potential rate increase for consumers by deferring the cost of upgrades to the existing water treatment facility
  • Increase of the municipal water treatment capacity for the cities of Reno and Sparks, enabling theconstruction of up to 25,000 additional homes

In 2015, data centers consumed approximately 2% of the power in the United States, and by 2030 data centers may consume as much as 10% of the power in the United States
– United States Data Center Energy Usage Report, June 2016

Since January 2016, all Switch data centers have run on 100% renewable energy in all our Prime Campus locations

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY STATEMENT

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 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 principle 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:

  • Operate our facilities with 100% renewable electricity, and to implement policies and practices that further ensure we are proactive and responsible stewards of the climate and the environment, preventing harmful emissions whenever possible
     
  • Strive for optimal energy efficiency and tenets of sustainability in the design of our data center facilities, with a level of leadership and innovation that enables us to perform well above industry standards and invite others to do the same
  • Seek higher levels of performance, efficiency and optimize with each new facility we build
  • Comply with all environmental laws and regulations as applicable to our business, including design, construction and building permits, and advocate for advancements in such policies and standards
  • Be transparent and open in our communications about our efforts
  • Advocate for and participate in public policy and industry standards debate to help raise awareness, and champion sustainable initiatives and challenge the industry status quo
  • To review our full Environmental Policy, click here

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.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROCUREMENT POLICY

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.

“Data runs the planet® and we want to ensure it doesn’t ruin the planet.”
– Rob Roy, Switch CEO and Founder

Switch’s Chief Construction Officer leads the performance management of construction suppliers across the company’s supply chain – with the oversight of Switch’s Founder and CEO Rob Roy. The construction team carefully 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 the confidential information and trade secrets of Switch and its clients. 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 interim inspection to be conducted 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. This includes setting deadlines for remedial actions or improvements, as necessary.

CLIMATE RISK MANAGEMENT

We identify climate change and its impacts as a risk to our business, but also as an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage through innovation and a commitment to renewable energy. In assessing these risks and opportunities, we think about climate change in terms of how it affects our business and how we affect the environment.

We have identified five primary ways climate change might impact our business: 1) operating costs, 2) site selection, 3) client demand, 4) water stress, and 5) natural disasters.

 

GHG REDUCTION PROGRAM


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 2020 greenhouse gas footprint from all other in-score sources was reduced from 2019 and totals only 4800 metric tons.

PHYSICAL CLIMATE RISK MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

As a data center provider, the ability to effectively identify and manage operational and environmental risk is fundamental to Switch’s core business and its reputation. 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 [implemented] throughout the company.

Physical Protection: Switch purpose-builds its data centers to enable full control of building design and construction and highly advanced protections against severe weather events. Switch does not use or permit any equipment to penetrate the repairable/replaceable dual roof system and locations are outside a 100-year flood plain.

  • Switch maintains full-power backup systems that include redundant utility feeds, full-site battery capacity, and onsite backup generation to recharge the batteries if they are needed over a long period of time
     
  • Switch has secured mission-critical status fuel delivery contracts to ensure that its fuel deliveries will take priority over the utility’s other clients
  • Switch’s patented Redundant Data Center Roofing System (Switch Shield) is a dual, 200-mph-rated roofing system to mitigate extreme weather conditions. The system allows perpetual repair and replacement of the roof components without interrupting critical systems operations
  • Switch’s cooling system design allows the data center to be able to run indefinitely without water, has outside air pollutant detection, and is protective response enabled. All cooling water is located outside the data center building shell with no water permitted on or above data center floor.

 
Switch has management processes to address both risks to our data centers arising from a changing climate (physical risks), and risks to our company stemming from policies and public sentiment related to climate change (policy risks). Neither of these processes are executed in isolation; both are part of larger company risk management processes.

Considering and mitigating the risks of extreme events (of all kinds) is a routine responsibility of Switch’s planning, operations and executive teams including the current and future prevalence and risk of adverse impacts from natural disasters or severe weather events when selecting new data center locations. 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.

T-SCIF

We refer to our patented 100% Hot Aisle Containment Row technology as the Switch Thermal Separate Compartment in Facility (“T-SCIF”) or the Chimney Pod. The T-SCIF (Chimney Pod) creates a fully contained hot aisle between parallel rows of cabinets. The heat from the clients’ equipment exhausts into the hot aisle, where it vents up into a hot-air plenum and out of the data center via extraction fans. Simultaneously, cold air is released from the overhead vents in the cold room into the intakes of the IT equipment in the cabinets, which cools the equipment. The exhausted hot air is never allowed to blend back into the cold room, which helps ensure that our clients’ IT equipment operates in the correct environmental conditions. Using this cooling method, we are able to cool power levels that significantly exceed those of traditional data centers. Our ability to support these increased densities enables our clients to use and buy less cabinet space to house their equipment, which reduces the cost of their deployment and enhances energy efficiency.

ROB ROY’S GIGAWATT NEVADA

In 2015, Switch and Capital Dynamics partnered through Rob Roy’s vision to develop one of the largest solar footprint and battery storage projects in the technology industry. At full development, the project will provide 1 Gigawatt of solar power and over 800 MWhs of battery storage.

The project is the equivalent of removing the carbon from approximately 250,000 cars off the road and eliminating over 1.3 million carbon tons of emissions from the environment. This will generate enough clean energy to power over 200,000 homes.

The first phase of Rob Roy’s Gigawatt Nevada is a 360 MWh battery storage system located in Boulder City, NV.

This project was recently recognized as the 2019 Financial Investment of the Year by S&P Global Platts at its Global Energy Awards Event.

A subsequent phase of this project located in Storey County, NV will be a 127 MW behind-the-meter solar project with a 240 MWh battery storage system. Behind-the-meter projects generate power off the public grid, placing no burden on legacy public utility production.

This will be the largest behind-the-meter solar project in the world.

To date, the projects that are underway will generate a total of 555 MW of solar power and utilize 800 MWhs of battery storage. We expect to announce additional phases in the near future. The project drew praise from Nevada Governor, Steve Sisolak, as well as leading national renewable energy advocates.

To date, the projects that are underway will generate a total of 555 MW of solar power and utilize 800 MWhs of battery storage. We expect to announce additional phases in the near future. The project drew praise from Nevada Governor, Steve Sisolak, as well as leading national renewable energy advocates.

“Nevada can enjoy the benefit of needed economic growth and strike a critical balance for the environment and precious natural resources. This project represents a major advancement for Nevada and we applaud Switch and their partners for continuing to push the envelope of sustainable business operations and renewable energy.”
– Rose McKinney-James, managing partner of Rose McKinney-James and Associates and
Energy Works LLC and long-time clean energy proponent.

 

GOOD NEIGHBOR COMMITMENTS

Switch is actively engaged in mitigating its impact on the environment and communities where its data centers are located. This involves technologies used on the generators for mechanical noise reduction which includes engine and radiator fan noise. To achieve noise reduction levels, Switch added baffled air intake and radiator discharge plenums. Switch also increased the area, density and thickness of the internal insulation materials. To strengthen exhaust noise reduction, we installed larger internal exhaust silencers with additional external secondary silencers, resulting in a 30dBA reduction from previous designs and sound levels reduced to approximately 46dBA vs. 76dBA (@ 100’).

While most of Switch’s data center campus locations are within commercially zoned areas, in the fast growing city of Las Vegas, residential areas sprung up and single-family houses became our neighbors. We wanted to ensure the sheer size of Switch’s data centers and air handlers did not detrimentally impact the surrounding neighborhood.

To ensure this, Switch hired a third-party consultant to evaluate the noise level for our air handling units. The consultant conducted a study that would assist the company in avoiding negative impacts in residential neighborhoods. The feedback from the consultant resulted in modifications to our AHUs that surpassed Nevada code title 30 section 68’s requirements. Previously, deployed air handler units were designed so that the compressors were not fully enclosed. The compressors were located next to the coils and vented panels. This resulted in noise levels that could be heard 200-300 feet away, and as the units ran longer and harder, it resulted in higher noise levels.

To address this issue, the compressors were moved within the AHU and fully enclosed with padding so that they could not be heard beyond 5-10 feet, resulting in a noise reduction of approximately 95%.

 
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 (investorrelations@switch.com) or the Switch Policy team (policy@switch.com).

 

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Switch

The World’s Leading Data Center Ecosystem Switch
Las Vegas Nevada 89118