Historically a financial barrier to scalable corporate sustainability, renewable energy sources are getting cheaper much faster than leading experts predicted. In fact, renewables are becoming a major driver of future growth for environmentally-conscious organizations.

That's according to Ramez Naam, co-chair for energy and environment at Singularity University, who spoke at WWT's Business Innovation Summit at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.

Naam said that as business leaders face mounting pressure to deliver metrics and governance around sustainability initiatives, capital outlay in the clean economy is outpacing expenditures in fossil fuels.

That's important for corporate leaders because, "as we all know, talent and capital chase growth."

For these reasons, corporate interest in sustainability has never been higher, with roughly half of the world's largest publicly held companies actively working toward reaching net zero emissions, and more committing to it every day.

"All this rush to build clean energy creates demand for computation and insights driven by AI," he said.

With data centers being massive consumers of energy, Naam outlined four ways corporate leaders can manage their energy more effectively:

  1. Identify and drive data center efficiency. Everything from the more efficient use of legacy lighting and cooling systems to investing in innovations such as liquid or immersion cooling.
  2. Invest in clean energy. Start looking toward renewables like solar, wind or even hydro to power systems.
  3. Take advantage of flexibility. Shift or move workloads to the time or place that is optimal for performance and efficiency.
  4. Consider a geographic approach. As renewables become a feasible source for data center power, move data centers and workloads to physical locations that have the capacity to produce cheap power.

In any case, technology will be critical to empowering sustainability initiatives moving forward, particularly as data-fueled AI and ML insights begin to more heavily influence the use and positioning of renewable energies.

Establishing a sustainable technology strategy and framework is one of several priorities executives should focus on as they develop and grow their ESG programs.

Developing a mature sustainability program requires strategic planning and alignment, resource allocation and execution that spans the entire operation of any organization. Setting goals requires a level of organizational cooperation that, for many companies, has never been achieved. And implementing a sustainable technology strategy can take years to substantiate and materialize.

WWT Research recently published its Corporate Sustainability Priorities report for 2023. This report can help ESG leaders kickstart their sustainability roadmap, offering practical steps they can take right now to advance toward net zero.

Corporate Sustainability Priorities for 2023 Access the report