Involta has been empowering clients to reimagine their worlds through technology for nearly 20 years. Since opening our first data center, we’ve worked tirelessly to position ourselves as the sustainable IT partner of choice. When Involta was founded in 2007, there was no roadmap for reducing carbon emissions and no path toward a greener data center—instead, forward-looking technology companies that understood the importance of sustainability made incremental, everyday improvements that focused on energy efficiency and conscious business practices.
Six of our purpose-built data centers recently achieved coveted ENERGY STAR® Certifications from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, underscoring our commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices and delivering clean, green technology solutions that empower our clients and enhance their sustainability efforts.
Becoming Energy Stars
The ENERGY STAR® Certification is the only energy efficiency certification in the U.S. based on actual, verified energy performance. ENERGY STAR facilities must score at least a 75 in their evaluation and are verified to perform in the top 25% of buildings nationwide, based on weather-normalized source energy use that accounts for key metrics such as occupancy and hours of operation. On average, ENERGY STAR Certified buildings use 35% less energy, cause 35% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and are less expensive to operate than their peers, all without sacrifices in performance and comfort.
Through ongoing incremental improvements, Involta’s Akron, Independence, Northpointe, Boise and Tucson facilities obtained ENERGY STAR Certifications for the first time in 2023, while Duluth achieved its fifth consecutive certification. Of the six data centers certified, three were in the 90th percentile, with Independence, Northpointe and Boise scoring 96, 99 and 98 respectively.
“Saving energy is just one of the ways Involta shows our communities that we care,” says Tom Lang, Director of Data Center Operations at Involta. “In an energy-intensive industry, taking action to increase sustainability and energy efficiency is vital. We aim to be responsible stewards of our resources and leave a lasting positive impact on our communities for generations to come, and we achieve this through innovative improvements.”
Involta has tracked key sustainability metrics and measured efficiencies since our inception. By tracking data center energy use, Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE), we’ve identified opportunities to implement new technologies and data center designs that decrease energy consumption. Some of these improvements include replacing end-of-life equipment with high-efficiency equipment, implementing hot and cold aisle containment, replacing incandescent lights with occupancy sensor-controlled LED lighting and responsible recycling and disposal of electronics and other hazardous waste.
These initiatives have resulted in 50% energy efficiency improvements between our flagship facility, commissioned in 2008, and our newest facilities. In 2022, 35% of Involta’s energy usage came from carbon-free sources, and over 17% of our data center energy use was derived from renewable sources.
Involta Data Centers: Sustainability at Every Step
Involta takes a generational approach to data center construction, implementing improvements and evaluating alternatives on an ongoing basis. Our renovations make use of the improvements that have been proven with data, and our environmental initiatives include siting, design, construction and operational techniques.
When siting our data centers, Involta considers environmental factors such as hazards, developmental limitations, land use and green initiatives from organizations like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). In the design process, we prioritize the use of low-impact materials for walls, cladding and surface drainage and ensure flora, fauna and animal habitat accommodation. As our data centers become operational, we consider the placement and rotation of equipment, closely monitoring to track performance trends.
Additionally, Involta data centers utilize closed-loop water, free-cooling and refrigerant-based cooling systems to minimize water consumption. Collectively, our data centers don’t exceed 1,000 m3 of monthly water use, and use less than 10,000 m3 of water annually. Because of this, Involta’s data centers have achieved an average WUE of less than 0.17 L per kWh, compared to the industry average of 1.8 L per kWh for facilities that use consumption-based water cooling designs.
Stars of the Show
Involta has evolved our data center designs through innovative architectural approaches and emerging power and cooling technologies, enabling energy efficiencies to reduce our energy usage by over 10%. Our data center teams learn from every certification experience, applying new insights and findings at all of Involta’s facilities to drive efficiencies across the board. By going through the ENERGY STAR® Certification process, we gained a high-level view of our data centers’ energy and power usage and identified key areas for improvement in each of our facilities.
“Obtaining the ENERGY STAR Certifications for six of our sites across the country is a great achievement that reinforces Involta’s commitment to being a sustainable and ethical leader in the IT landscape,” says Nate Wisehart, Involta’s Duluth Data Center Manager. “You don’t know how or where to be more efficient if you’re unable to see your current state. This achievement not only underscores our Data Center Operations team’s focus on providing Superior Infrastructure and Operational Excellence, but it also empowers us to continue innovating and finding new ways to increase efficiency and sustainability.”
Of our six data centers that obtained ENERGY STAR Certifications, Northpointe, Involta’s newest facility, scored the highest, achieving an impressive score of 99/100. Northpointe leverages Direct Expansion (DX) systems, which provide lower power consumption and more efficient scalability than traditional chiller-based systems. Moving forward, Northpointe’s data center experts will be focused on maintaining energy efficiencies as the location continues to grow and evolve.
For Involta’s Duluth data center, 2023 marks the fifth consecutive year of earning the ENERGY STAR Certification. Each year, Duluth’s score has increased, from 75/100 in 2019 to 89/100 in 2023. Our Duluth facility sources energy from Minnesota Power, whose EnergyForward resource strategy delivers 50% renewable energy to consumers.
In Boise, our Victory View data center made history as the first Idaho data center to receive the ENERGY STAR Certification. This isn’t the first recognition that our Victory View facility has received; in 2022, it was presented the Idaho Award for Leadership in Energy Efficiency for the team’s work to reduce energy consumption by 1.3M kWh. By redirecting airflow for energy-efficient cooling and installing air conditioning units with variable frequency drive fan motors, Boise Victory View has revolutionized the sustainable technology movement in Idaho.
Involta is incredibly proud of our ENERGY STAR achievements, but we know our work isn’t done. As we look to the future, our People Who Deliver will continue to monitor energy usage closely across our facilities and search for new ways to improve our energy efficiency, reduce our carbon footprint and change our clients’ worlds through technology sustainably.