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Data Center Sustainability: How Edge Data Centers Hold Responsibility for a Sustainable Future

As Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives become increasingly important for enterprises, company leaders are examining the impact their businesses have on the environment. When implementing CSR initiatives, data center sustainability may not be top of mind. Leaders may commonly think of reducing power and water consumption or implementing an office recycling program. However, selecting the right data center—in particular an edge data center—can help companies meet their CSR goals and reduce their carbon footprints.

Record amounts of data being processed today is leading to continued data center proliferation. Because of the need for the low-latency environments edge data centers provide, the edge collocation market in particular is expected to grow from $5.5 billion to more than $20 billion between 2019 and 2026. The overall data center market is responsible for as much as 1.5% of the world’s power consumption. With the amount of edge data centers expected to launch in the coming years, the edge sector should be leading the way to seek out approaches to use more sustainable energy sources.

So far, edge facilities are rising to the challenge.

How Are Edge Data Centers More Sustainable?

By processing data closer to where enterprises are located—or at the edge—the amount of energy required is drastically reduced. Consider an email or message sent through instant messaging applications, like Skype and Microsoft Teams. With a traditional hyperscale data center, any time an employee hits send on a message, information often has to be sent hundreds of miles away, which requires more bandwidth, cross-connects, connectivity, and therefore, more energy use. With edge data centers, data from that message can usually be processed mere miles away from company headquarters.

By reducing the distance information has to travel to be processed, enterprises can reduce the amount of power required to process it, which translates to energy and cost savings. Given the number of emails sent and received per day is expected to reach more than 376 billion by 2025, the potential energy savings will continue to compound, making edge facilities a key component when it comes to data center sustainability.

Beyond processing messages, edge collocation facilities process bandwidth-heavy applications, like video streaming services, closer to the end user. High-bandwidth consumption generally requires heavy energy usage, because of the demands it puts on the network. Processing data-intensive video closer to the devices on which it’s streaming reduces carbon emissions. While the edge facility’s network will still have to process the request for video data, it does not have to travel hundreds of miles, which reduces strain on the system and leads to a more efficient data center environment.

Additional Data Center Sustainability Measures

In addition to processing data closer to an enterprise facility, newer edge collocation facilities can increase data center sustainability in a variety of ways, including the use of AI-based applications to process information at the edge and only sending pertinent information over the backhaul network to increase efficiency. With the rate at which the edge collocation industry is growing, a real opportunity exists to implement the most cutting-edge technology at the newest facilities, which will incrementally lead to more sustainable collocation environments.

The American Tower Sustainability Approach

American Tower considers managing our environmental impact to be a crucial pillar of our business model, beyond our data center operations. Overall, American Tower has invested more than $100 million in green energy solutions, such as advanced batteries, solar installations, and other innovative technologies. While our solar and other technology initiatives have primarily taken place in India and our African markets, our team of dedicated experts continues to search for ways to implement sustainable strategies across all markets and our data center operations.

We’d love to answer any questions you have about strengthening your company’s CSR initiatives by taking advantage of our Edge Data Centers. Contact us at to discuss further.

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