An End-to-End Approach to Sustainability in the AI Era

An end-to-end approach to sustainability is an important foundation to build on as we seize the AI opportunity ahead.

With our scalable Dell AI factory and open ecosystem partnerships, we’re helping our customers unlock new possibilities with AI. With these possibilities, also come challenges, like the world’s transition to Net-zero and what impact generative AI will have on climate transition work already underway.

What we know is the world relies on supercomputing to solve many of its greatest challenges like advancing healthcare, transforming the food system and conserving nature. Yet certain AI workloads can be energy intensive. In fact, it is estimated that by 2030, energy demands for AI data centers will equate to around 390 gigawatts (GW), with an additional capacity of 130GW for other applications. That’s 520GW in total—eight times today’s capacity.

So how do we approach this as a global technology leader? How can we help create a future where progress does not come at the expense of our planet?

For decades, we have seen sustainability as a business imperative, so we treat it like one. It’s woven throughout our business operations, influences how we design products and innovate more energy-efficient data center solutions and shapes how we help our customers meet their business and societal impact goals. We take an end-to-end approach to sustainability.

Back End and Front End Expertise

Think of the back end as how we integrate and operationalize sustainability as an organization internally and within our ecosystem. Everyone across the organization plays a role, from our accounting teams to our engineers, global operations and sales leaders. It’s this foundation that enables us to drive sustainable materials innovation with our suppliers and product design teams. It’s how we are exploring the intersection of technology and energy innovation. And how we drive cross-organizational collaboration to meet upcoming regulations and reporting requirements.

The front end is what most people see. It’s the conversations we have with our customers and partners about their sustainability needs—how we’re helping them to right-size their workloads and advising on renewable energy sources. The front end is our sustainable data center solutions like storage and servers built with leading liquid and air cooling, emissions tracking and energy efficiency top of mind. It shows up in the low emissions aluminum and recycled cobalt in our AI PCs and our multipack shipping options to reduce emissions and waste. It’s present in our recycling and recovery services for the responsible retirement or reuse of systems and the reduction of e-waste. We consider sustainability in every offering—including our as-a-Service solutions for more flexible IT management. These solutions could help reduce the overall emissions of IT operations.

sustainability - data center - servers - recycling - as a service - Dell - Dell Technologies - Dell Technologies World - ESG - Dell AI Factory - energy

Why is an End-to-end Approach to Sustainability Important?

Rising energy costs, changing regulations and reporting requirements and diverse stakeholder demands are forcing organizations to adopt more sustainable IT practices. However, almost six in 10 customers tell us they think AI will compromise their environmental sustainability efforts, and many customers tell us they are not sure where to focus. We are on a similar journey and this approach, including an annual end-to-end sustainability roadmap, has helped us focus and make progress.

There is more work to do, including how to sustainably manage power hungry GenAI. What we know is managing our sustainability innovation and operations end-to-end is an important foundation to build on as we seize the AI opportunity ahead.

It is a pivotal moment. We’re optimistic, pragmatic and will continue to use the industry’s broadest technology and services portfolio, combined with our team member and partner ingenuity, and global reach to deliver positive business, environmental and societal impact.

About the Author: Jeff Clarke

Jeff Clarke is vice chairman and chief operating officer for Dell Technologies responsible for running day-to-day business operations, shaping the company’s strategic agenda and setting priorities across the Dell Technologies executive leadership team. Jeff directs the Services, Infrastructure Solutions Group and the Client Solutions Group, and manages Global Operations including manufacturing, procurement and supply chain. Jeff is also responsible for setting the long-term strategy and leads planning for technology areas such as AI, Multicloud, Edge and Telecom. Jeff joined Dell Technologies in 1987 as a quality engineer. Since then, his remit has grown to lead the company’s biggest transformations that resulted in Dell Technologies No.1 worldwide share positions in many of its core infrastructure and PC products. He’s also passionate about Dell’s social impact agenda and plays an active role in advancing Dell’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, employee resource groups and 2030+ ESG goals. Prior to joining Dell Technologies, Jeff served as a reliability and product engineer at Motorola, Inc. He serves on the College of Engineering Advisory Council for his alma mater, the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1986.