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Understanding energy use and sustainability investments at the Ireland 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 Ireland, are key to our sustainability goals.

Carbon negative by 2030

For our datacenters in this region, Microsoft is procuring approximately 49 percent renewable energy from wind resources. We have a power purchase agreement with Ronaver for the Tullahennel wind project.

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. Our Ireland datacenters had a 12-month weighted average PUE of 1.22 for 2021. The new datacenters that commenced design in January 2021 will have a design PUE of 1.12.

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. The majority of Microsoft Ireland datacenters either have been or are in the process of being LEED Gold certified and new Microsoft datacenters being built are designed to earn LEED Gold certification.

Dublin datacenters are also ISO50001 certified, further demonstrating our commitment to continuous energy efficiency management.

Microsoft operations in Ireland 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 most of our Ireland 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 2 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 Ireland, the WUE during 2021 was 0.03 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. In January 2022, we opened a Circular Center at the Dublin datacenter facilities. Microsoft Circular Centers are able to process 3,000 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.

This work builds on our ongoing waste reduction efforts that started in 2008 and resulted in the zero waste certifications of our Dublin datacenters.