Understanding energy use and sustainability investments at the greater Des Moines datacenters
In each building at every campus and datacenter, sustainability is a key priority for Microsoft across all phases of a project— from site selection to design and construction to operations and decommissioning. Microsoft datacenters, including our facilities in Des Moines, are key to our sustainability goals.
Carbon negative by 2030
For our datacenters in this region, Microsoft is procuring approximately 68 percent renewable energy.
Power usage effectiveness (PUE) measures cloud energy efficiency. The calculation is total power consumption divided by IT power consumption. A lower PUE score indicates more energy efficient datacenters, with a PUE of 1.0 being the best score. During 2021, the Des Moines datacenter facility had a PUE of 1.169. The existing datacenters are designed to run at a PUE of 1.22. The new datacenters being built will have a PUE of 1.12.
Globally, Microsoft datacenters use fossil fuel generators for backup power and account for less than 1 percent of our overall emissions. In specific regions, Microsoft is piloting running backup generators with renewable blend, cleaner-burning fuels, and is also piloting the replacement of datacenter generators with long-duration batteries.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the world’s largest green building certification program. LEED provides the framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings with lower carbon emissions. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. New Microsoft datacenters being built are designed to earn LEED Gold certification, including the new datacenters being built in the Iowa region.
Microsoft operations in Iowa comply with applicable air quality requirements.
Water positive by 2030
Water usage effectiveness (WUE) is another key metric relating to the efficient and sustainable operations of our datacenters and is a crucial aspect as we work towards our commitment to be water positive by 2030. WUE is calculated by dividing the number of liters of water used for humidification and cooling by the total annual amount of power (measured in kWh) needed to operate our datacenter IT equipment.
Microsoft uses outdoor air with direct evaporative cooling at our Des Moines datacenters. This method of cooling uses outside air and zero water for cooling when temperatures are below 29.4 degrees Celsius, reducing water for cooling to less than 10 percent of the year. This system is highly efficient, using less electricity and a fraction of water used by other water-based cooling systems, such as cooling towers.
For our datacenters in Iowa, the 2021 average WUE was 0.28 L/kWh. The new datacenters are designed for a yearly average WUE of 0.04 L/kWh.
Zero waste by 2030
Microsoft has a goal to achieve 90 percent diversion of datacenter operational waste by 2030. To reach this goal, we’re working closely with our waste haulers to optimize waste diversion programs across our global datacenter portfolio. We have achieved Zero Waste certifications for our San Antonio, Texas; Quincy, Washington; Boydton, Virginia; and Dublin, Ireland datacenter locations.
In 2020, we opened our first Microsoft Circular Center in our North Holland datacenters, which is designed to extend the life cycle of servers through reuse and to support a circular economy for the Microsoft Cloud. Because it takes five to six years from when a datacenter is operational to generate reusable assets, we are planning a Des Moines Circular Center to open once the new datacenters are in use and servers are ready to be decommissioned. Microsoft Circular Centers are able to process 12,000 servers per month for reuse.
Globally, Microsoft datacenters reuse 78 percent of our end-of-life assets and components; the remaining 22 percent of materials are recycled. Additionally, Microsoft is conducting research and development to improve waste diversion by determining new recycling solutions for used air filters and fiber optic cables. The Des Moines datacenter facility diverted 45.4 percent of operational waste (not construction waste) from landfills and incineration in 2021.