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Article

A Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry: Using Design Methods to Address the Challenge of Whole System Sustainability in a Unique Industrial Sector

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School of Engineering, London South Bank University, London SE1 0AA, UK
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School of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, London SE1 0AA, UK
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WeLOOP, 62750 Loos-En Gohelle, France
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Digital Infrastructure Association (SDIA), 20354 Hamburg, Germany
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Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, 42103 Wuppertal, Germany
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Luis Jesús Belmonte-Ureña
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6319; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116319
Received: 30 March 2021 / Revised: 25 May 2021 / Accepted: 26 May 2021 / Published: 2 June 2021
The data centre industry (DCI) has grown from zero in the 1980s, to enabling 60% of the global population to be connected in 2021 via 7.2 million data centres. The DCI is based on a linear economy and there is an urgent need to transform to a Circular Economy to establish a secure supply chain and ensure an economically stable and uninterrupted service, which is particularly difficult in an industry that is comprised of ten insular subsectors. This paper describes the CEDaCI project which was established to address the challenge in this unique sector; this ground-breaking project employs a whole systems approach, Design Thinking and the Double Diamond methods, which rely on people/stakeholder engagement throughout. The paper reviews and assesses the impact of these methods and project to date, using quantitative and qualitative research, via an online sectoral survey and interviews with nine data centre and IT industry experts. The results show that the project is creating positive impact and initiating change across the sector and that the innovative output (designs, business models, and a digital tool) will ensure that sectoral transformation continues; the project methods and structure will also serve as an exemplar for other sectors. View Full-Text
Keywords: circular economy; design methods; whole systems thinking; data centre industry circular economy; design methods; whole systems thinking; data centre industry
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MDPI and ACS Style

Andrews, D.; Newton, E.J.; Adibi, N.; Chenadec, J.; Bienge, K. A Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry: Using Design Methods to Address the Challenge of Whole System Sustainability in a Unique Industrial Sector. Sustainability 2021, 13, 6319. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116319

AMA Style

Andrews D, Newton EJ, Adibi N, Chenadec J, Bienge K. A Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry: Using Design Methods to Address the Challenge of Whole System Sustainability in a Unique Industrial Sector. Sustainability. 2021; 13(11):6319. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116319

Chicago/Turabian Style

Andrews, Deborah, Elizabeth J. Newton, Naeem Adibi, Julie Chenadec, and Katrin Bienge. 2021. "A Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry: Using Design Methods to Address the Challenge of Whole System Sustainability in a Unique Industrial Sector" Sustainability 13, no. 11: 6319. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116319

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