Pioneering Sustainability in the Data Center Industry

One-on-one with Travis Wright, Vice President, Energy and Sustainability, QTS Data Centers

IG Editor-in-Chief Jasmine Bedi gets in conversation with Travis Wright, Vice President, Energy and Sustainability, QTS Data Centers on their sustainability efforts. QTS is a leading provider of data center solutions across a diverse footprint, spanning more than six million gross square feet of owned mega-scale data center space throughout North America.

What was the impetus for QTS taking such a strong position on the environment and sustainability?

Taking on any new initiative within a large company is a tough road, particularly for a publicly traded one. Ideas must be based on sound logic and reasoning to have the greatest chance for success. Whether it is a new product offering, a new enterprise software, or a new benefits package, there will always be a steep path to success, and lots of learning along the way. 

When we decided to take on the challenge of sustainability, we did it with an open mind and the need to provide total transparency for our employees, our customers, and our shareholders. Our CEO, Chad Williams, was adamant in the belief that we could create value for our investors and benefit society at the same time. We were already very active with social and community initiatives, and we had documented QTS’ key core values that start with character, integrity and trust, and end with faith, family and a commitment to volunteerism.

In 2017, Williams took the discussion to the board of directors and they agreed to a structured program documented in our first-ever Environmental Sustainability, Social Accountability and Corporate Governance report (ESG). Published in 2019, it was one of the firsts in the data center industry and the first with the bold commitment to provide 100% renewable energy by 2025.

Travis Wright, Vice President, Energy and Sustainability, QTS Data Centers

What are your goals, and how far have you progressed to achieve them?

After a comprehensive vetting process, we determined our core sustainability pillars to be energy, water and waste. This led to formalization of the following key goals now documented in the ESG.

  • Procure 100% of our power from renewable energy sources by 2025
  • Pursue LEED certification in 90% of QTS facilities by 2025
  • Conserve at least 10 million gallons of water per year
  • Install electric vehicle charging stations at 30% of QTS facilities by 2025
  • Recycle 600 million pounds of waste material by 2025

Today, I can report we are well on our way to achieving them. We have three data centers running on 100% renewable energy. Approximately 30% of our overall data center power requirements are now sourced from renewable energy sources, representing over 300 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable power. According to the EPA, this makes us one of the largest users of green power among all data center companies and the 12th largest user among Top Tech & Telecom companies. 

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