Let’s ask: Green It Amsterdam

For our new series of Blogs we interview partners and customers of who we think might have an interesting view on how the internet market is developing. In this blog we speak with Julie Chenadec from Green IT Amsterdam.

Can you tell us a bit more about your organization and your background?

Green IT Amsterdam makes the energy transition possible with IT for the Amsterdam region. Our mission is to scout, test and showcase innovative IT solutions for increasing energy efficiency and decreasing carbon emissions. As our society is constantly relying more and more on IT, urgency for sustainability keeps increasing. Moreover, IT can play a key role in making the change from fossil energy into renewable energy, the energy of the future and for the future.

We share knowledge, expertise and ambitions, for achieving sustainable targets with our 28 public and private Green IT Leaders. We do this by greening IT and IT support in optimizing various sectors of the Green Economy in the Amsterdam region.

Julie Chenadec
Julie Chenadec – Green IT Amsterdam

I am working for Green IT Amsterdam since 2015. I started with internships and right after the completion of my graduation I got employed, so never left. I completed a Master in Sustainable Development in Bordeaux, but I originally come from the region Bretagne, the “Far West” as I like to say. Prior to the Master, I did a 2-years diploma in International Trade but felt really quickly that I didn’t want to devote my life to something I was not passionate about. Therefore, I spend a year in Ireland (Malahide) to study English and with the mission to find something that I would love to work on for the rest of my life: sustainability.

Why is making datacenters more circular so important?  

Datacenters are the backbone of our continuous infusion of IT services. There are, without any doubt, critical infrastructures with growing concerns regarding energy consumption. The recent temporary halt, to the construction of new datacenters, pending new regional policy in the Amsterdam region, is a perfect example of how datacenters are (wrongly) perceived in the public discussions.

Currently in Europe, datacenters cover about 10 million m2 floor area, 70% of which is concentrated in North West Europe (NWE), especially in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands. The ongoing development of Internet of Things (IoT) and other services is creating concurrent growth in data exchange and storage and it is predicted that this will be met with a 300% increase in data centers in Europe by 2025 and a 500% global increase in datacenters by 2030.

Because the digitization of our industry and society is crucial for the realization of future sustainability requirements and economic prosperity, datacenters will and already have a role in the energy transition and in the circularity principles and strategy.

What do you see as the biggest challenges & threats in the current datacenter landscape and do you think there is a way to face those challenges?

The main priority of the datacenter (DC) industry is 100% uninterrupted operation and service to customers and consequently the sector has concentrated on technology and product development, manufacture and operation. That being said, the greatest environmental impact of data centers comes from the substantial use of energy. This is being addressed through improved operational efficiency and the use of renewable electricity generation technologies. However, given the enormous growth, the impact of datacenters on the availability of resources such as the critical raw materials mentioned should not be overlooked”.

Over the lifetime of a datacenter an estimated 15 percent of the environmental impact comes from the building and its installations, while 85 percent comes from IT equipment. The impact is high because equipment is typically renewed every 1 to 5 years. As a result datacenters contribute to the annual global production of 11.8 Mt/year of WEEE (Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment), which is one of the biggest and fastest growing waste streams in the world.

Although some equipment remains in Europe, a significant volume is exported; it may be recycled, stockpiled and/or sent to landfill and consequently millions of tons of resources are wasted and/or become inaccessible.

WEEE contains a number of Critical Raw Materials (CRM) which are economically valuable and technically essential to datacenter operation; however, their supply is vulnerable to disruption. The EU has set a list of 27 CRM where China represents 62% of the EU supply. The fact that the supply chain of CRM becomes disrupted and prices volatile, due to both the mine investment which is consider risky and the increase supply risk.

As a result, a shortage of CRM could hamper the development of high-tech in our society as well as our zero carbon economy.

Can you tell a little bit more about the CEDACI project?

CEDaCI is a European research project, INTERREG North West Europe, focused on the development of a circular economy for datacenters. The project started in January 2019 and runs until 2021, there are participant from the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

The CEDaCI project will facilitate the creation of a circular economy for datacenters in North-West Europe. This circular economy reduces the impact of datacenters on the environment. This will be possible if we are able to recover more raw materials, reduce the use of new raw materials and develop a safe and economically healthy chain for critical raw materials.

At present only 15% of CRM (critical raw materials) from the sector are recycled and recovered, the rest is sent to landfill / exported or some stockpiled. We aim to increase the recycling rate to 19% and 24%, 5 and 10 years after the project ends; reuse of equipment will also increase to 65% and 75% respectively and at end-of-life overall product ‘waste’ will be reduced to 35% and 25%. 

The project will bring together stakeholders from across the sector (designers, manufacturers, operators, refurbish company’s, recyclers) in a knowledge-sharing network, that we launched in May (click here for more). They will engage in a Co-creation Platform and 3 integrated Pilots for 3 life cycle stages (design, life extension and end-of-life) will be performed.

What do you think companies can do to become more circular?

To be honest, this question can be the subject of a book 🙂 I could talk about this topic for hours. I am actually really curious about what the readers of this blog do to become more circular!

That said, we would love to hear your thoughts about becoming more circular in the datacenter and IT. So leave your comment below and let us, and Julie, know what you are planning to do or already doing to become more circular! Let’s get the conversation going