Grassroots Decarbonization in Web3: DCENT Goes for Gold

data center

What does it take to be a “Green” data center? As data storage needs continue to grow and our world inches closer to climate change tipping points, efforts toward data center sustainability will become increasingly important.

Filecoin is a decentralized storage network that enables individual data centers to commit storage capacity for storing humanity’s most important information. Filecoin Green is an initiative within the Filecoin ecosystem working with these Storage Providers (SPs) to verifiably decarbonize their operations and build tools along the way to enhance transparency around sustainability claims.

Providing useful data services in a way that is minimally impactful to the environment is one of the guiding principles for DCENT, a Filecoin Storage Provider located in the Netherlands. With over 45 PiB of storage capacity, DCENT was recently awarded with the Gold tier sustainability claim from Filecoin Green.

Be sure to check out DCENTs full audit results here!

The Filecoin Green Auditing Process

Similar to how corporations conduct sustainability audits to evaluate their triple bottom line (profit, people, and planet), we’re working with SPs through the Filecoin Green Auditing Process to assess their operational sustainability and overall impacts on the environment. If SPs (or any business) want to claim that they are operating sustainably, this must be backed up with real data and validated at a high standard.

We’ve previously outlined how storage providers can become “Green SPs” and two of the fundamental components are to 1) implement a comprehensive carbon emissions accounting system and 2) use renewable energy sources to maintain operations. After reporting on several key operational metrics (which we’ve defined in our Energy Use Audit Matrix), Storage Providers then work with third-party validators to assess this information, and upon completion, SPs are assigned a ‘Sustainability Tier’ (otherwise referred to as a ‘Green Score’) based on their performance.

This auditing process, highlighted below, was designed to be conducted on a quarterly or monthly basis to monitor how SPs are performing in regard to their environmental impacts.

  • To meet the requirements of the audit, and to comply with the Filecoin Green Pledge, Storage Providers make sustainability claims by providing information on location, water usage, energy consumption, and renewable energy purchases to Filecoin.
  • Filecoin Green works with an independent third-party auditor, Anthesis, to verify these crucial operational metrics such as approximate location, electricity use, and renewable energy purchases by cross-referencing utility bills, grid API data, solar API data, and estimated cumulative energy use data.
  • Once Anthesis and Filecoin Green have completed the audit, they produce the auditing results which include two primary artifacts:
– A machine-readable (CSV) report of all submitted information and scoring metrics.
– A document describing how the SP scored and providing recommendations for better performance.
  • These artifacts are then assessed according to our tiered sustainability claim matrix and SPs are awarded a Bronze, Silver, or Gold sustainability score.

DCENT: Leading the Way for Decentralized Data Center Sustainability

Sustainability has been a critical consideration for the DCENT team since its inception. Founded by Hidde Hoogland and Wijnand Schouten, DCENT has its roots in Ethereum mining and made the full switch to becoming a Filecoin storage provider in early 2021 due not only to the usefulness of the protocol but also because of the energy efficiency of the network compared to many other blockchain proof of work models.

DCENT’s data center is located in the Netherlands and is impressively powered by over 800 solar panels of 385 watts each which collectively enable sufficient power for the data centers operations through summer months; additionally, the team is working on developing a solar-powered battery system that further increases the independence and sustainability of the data center when it comes to its energy use. Many of DCENT’s sustainability efforts have been supported by Filecoin Green through grant funding initiatives and collaborative projects to not only increase transparency around energy use and renewable energy generation but also to increase education about green operations for other storage providers.

After working closely with both the Filecoin Green team and Anthesis on the reporting and auditing process, DCENT was awarded the Gold tier Green Score, making them the first Filecoin Storage Provider to be certifiably green. You can check out some more details about DCENT’s Green Score here!

A Gold tier Green Score means that SPs have reported on relevant metrics in a granular way, and that:

  • Every unit of electricity (MWh) used by an SP has been accounted for by onsite renewable energy generation (as highlighted in DCENT’s efforts towards building onsite solar panels).
  • For energy consumption that is not accounted for in onsite renewable energy generation, emissions have been matched to Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) or Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

By the end of 2023, Gold tier storage providers will also be required to match all hardware embodied emissions to high-quality carbon credits (offsets or removals).

In earning their Gold tier status, DCENT proves that both sustainable data storage and greener blockchain solutions are possible.

What’s Next?

In 2023, Filecoin Green will scale our efforts of decarbonizing Storage Provider operations. Filecoin Green recently finished auditing the first Chinese SP, SXX Future Data, and anticipates auditing approximately ¼ of the network this calendar year. To complement our Green Guidance auditing, we’re developing a Reporting Portal to streamline the reporting requirements and verification process, and also aim to introduce economic incentives to encourage decarbonization efforts. These incentives will be tied to our auditing process and will be conveyed through our Green Score credentials.

If you’re interested in learning more about DCENT, please make sure to check out this recently published case study on the Storage Provider. You can also learn more about the auditing process and our approach to sustainable Storage Provider operations in our Green Guidance Documentation.

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