Beyond Green: What Makes a Data Center Dark Green?

What makes a data center Dark Green? When climate research institute Cicero reviewed Ficolo's The Air cloud delivery center expansion project, they rated the project with the highest Cicero rating, Dark Green. This was the first time the rating was awarded for a data center in the Nordics.


As the first privately-owned company in Finland, Ficolo received the highest Cicero Green rating for its bond. Cicero Green is a subsidiary to the climate research institure Cicero and provides second opinions on green bond frameworks, with ratings Light, Medium and Dark Green. Cicero researchers evaluate the sustainability of bond frameworks and the issuer’s relevant internal governance procedures. 

With global data traffic more than doubling every four years, data centers are potentially a cause of major environmental impact in the near future. According to Fortune, data centers globally consume 2% of all produced electricity and it has been predicted that it will rise to 8% by 2030. As the data is increasingly moving to cloud and as cloud adoption accelerates, data centers will require more electircity to produce services.

Because of the data centers’ rising demand for electricity, it is important to take notice of how the electricity is generated. Environmentally friendly methods like wind and water sources are one of the best ways to ensure the sustainable operation of data center.

Cooling fans, consoles, monitors, lighting and cooling systems require a lot of energy, 24/7. Many systems are required to run at all times, so the data centers are consuming electricity constantly. By optimizing functions and paying attention to governance, the emissions of data centers can be kept at sustainable levels. New more energy efficient equipment, virtualization technology and smart energy solutions, like waste heat reuse, are some of the ways to optimize data center operations and decrease the environmental impact.

Dark Green Data Center

The environment has had a role in Ficolo operations since the beginning. Our data centers have always been powered with 100% wind produced green energy. The location of our first data center The Rock is already an aspect that decreases the environmental impact. Location inside the bedrock lowers the need for cooling and thus lowers the required electricity. The Rock and Tampere region data center, The Deck, both utilize the waste heat for internal heating purposes. Our new cloud delivery center, The Air, will utilize a waste heat reuse system that also allows the waste heat to be recovered and distributed to the district heating system. So in effect, this allow using green energy for powering the IT equipment and reusing the generated to the district heating system. This enables exploiting the green energy again and reducing the amount of emissions. The effect of savings would be dependent on the fuel mix of the energy company providing the district heating.

The environmental efforts of Ficolo enabled the company to issue a green bond for the data center expansion project. The project framework was reviewed by Norwegian climate research institute Cicero and received the highest Cicero rating, Dark Green, the first data center in the Nordics to achieve the rating. The rating is allocated to projects and solutions that correspond to the long-term vision of a low carbon and climate resilient future. The bond funds are used exclusive for investing in the Air expansion project in such purposes that support the long-term vision. In addition to heat reuse, Cicero appreciates the use of a brownfield underutilized building, rather than building a new one as well as optimizing the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of acquired data centers.

Solar Panel Project

In December of 2019, we started a project that further decreases the environmental impact of the Rock. A 2600m2 solar panel system with 850 panels will be built on the data center site. The system’s peak output will be 255 kWp. The panel system won’t produce all the energy required by the data center but significantly reduces the need to purchase electricity to cool the data center during summers. The project is planned to finish in April 2020.

The solar panel project is currently on-going, and you can follow the progress from livestream on youtube.