Advancing Sustainable Data Centers Seminar Information

Special thanks to our sponsors!


9:00 – 9:20 am | Breakfast & Networking

9:20 – 9:30 am  | Opening Remarks

Vicki Worden President & CEO, Green Building Initiative

9:30 – 10:10 am | Keynote Address

Buddy Rizer Executive Director of Economic Development, Loudoun County, VA

10:10 – 10:35 am | Your Data Center’s Data: Where Is It? And What Does It Tell You About Sustainability?

Garrett Helmer Chief Revenue Officer, Cohesion

Data Centers produce a lot of data, and we’re not talking about what’s inside the racks. We’re talking about physical access, occupancy, energy utilization, air quality, temperature, etc. How do you bring it all together easily, and how can it tell a sustainability story?

10:35 – 10:50 am | Networking Break

10:50 – 11:20 am | Green Bytes: Advancing Energy Efficiency in Next-Generation Data Centers

John Khazraee CEO, InnovateSphere Consulting

Discover the essential principles that drive eco-friendly operations in sustainable data centers, from harnessing renewable energy to implementing cutting-edge techniques and methods. Uncover how these principles not only reduce environmental impact but also pave the way for unprecedented efficiency gains.

Attendees will be able to examine the difficulties, strategies used, and advantages experienced by companies that have implemented sustainable methods, offering practical guidance for incorporating similar approaches into their own activities. Explore how these innovations revolutionize data center sustainability, leading to significant reductions in carbon emissions and enhanced operational resilience.

11:20 am – 12:00 pm | Using a Sustainability Index to Create a Green Baseline for Your New Data Center

Karen Petersburg Vice President of Development and Construction, PowerHouse Data Centers
Elizabeth Larsen Senior Sustainability Engineer, Bala Consulting Engineers

The market need for a standardized sustainability assessment tool for new data center builds is significant and growing. This is driven by several key factors, including: environmental concerns, regulatory compliance, corporate sustainability goals, operational efficiency, and technological advancements. With these factors converging, best practices are emerging to measure and standardize environmental considerations with new data center construction. Developed by Elizabeth Larsen and adapted to mission critical projects by Larsen and Karen Petersburg, the Bala Sustainability Index represents a new way to set baseline measurements for data center aspects such as carbon offsets, carbon footprint, PUE, and WUE. In this presentation, Larsen and Petersburg will walk the audience through the ins and outs of the index, and how it can be used toward lifecycle assessments for new data center construction projects, as well as how it can be applied to GBI’s Journey To Net Zero program. As an example, the presentation will cover a real world case study, using the index’s baselines to evaluate the design of a new hyperscale facility located in Reno, Nevada.  

12:00 – 12:15 pm | Green Globes for Data Centers

Megan Baker Vice President of Engagement, Green Building Initiative

12:15 – 1:00 pm | Networking Lunch

1:00 – 1:30 pm | The Sustainable Digital Shift: Designing Data Centers for the AI-powered Future

Phill Lawson-Shanks Chief Innovation & Technology Officer, Aligned Data Centers

The imperative for sustainable data centers is stronger than ever. Aligned Data Centers has set ambitious goals and demonstrated leadership in designing, constructing, and operating high performing data centers since its inception. The company is continually evaluating and implementing new sustainability strategies into its growing portfolio, including lower carbon construction, highly-efficient cooling for higher densities, and alternative power options. Aligned has implemented a suite of technology that enables better tracking and informs an overall understanding of each facility’s environmental impact. The company is committed to transparency and accountability, pursuing GBI’s Green Globes certification for new construction projects nationwide. Achieving Green Globes certification has allowed Aligned to demonstrate its achievements to clients, community members, and other key stakeholders. Attendees will learn how Aligned is removing barriers and implementing innovative strategies to improve portfolio performance with recent case studies.

1:30 – 2:20 pm | Decarbonizing Data Centers: An Industry Up to the Challenge

Steven Anson Senior Director, Global Marketing, Leviton
J.D. Lambert Sustainable Design Leader – Mission Critical, Associate AIA, LEED AP BD+C, GGP, Fitwel Ambassador, RELi AP, HKS, Inc.
Emily Sanders Sustainability and ESG Consultant, Jacobs
Jeff Sprau CEO, Legence

Data centers face a critical challenge: meet the ever-growing demand for data while reducing their construction and operational carbon footprint. It is estimated that the U.S. data center footprint will require 35 gigawatts of power by 2030, representing more than two times the 17 GW total in 2022. By adopting deliberate design strategies and innovative technologies, data centers can work collectively to decarbonize the industry and become leaders for other resource intensive industries. Panelists will share strategies for performing whole building life-cycle assessments using a cradle-to-cradle system boundary for data center design and construction, achieving hourly time-matched clean energy, and leverage AI solutions to monitor consumption real-time.

2:20 – 2:30 pm | Closing Remarks

Jack Bidlack Director of Strategic Initiatives, Information and Engineering Technologies, Northern Virginia Community College 
Anna Figueroa DCO Technician I, CoreSite

2:30 – 3:00 pm | Networking


Steven Anson | Senior Director, Global Marketing, Leviton

Steve Anson is the Senior Director of Marketing at Leviton, responsible for Vertical Markets, Digital, and Brand Marketing, where his expertise and leadership are instrumental in driving the company’s success. With a career spanning over three decades, and encompassing diverse business roles in APAC, EMEA and North America, Steve has cultivated a deep understanding of consumer behavior and market dynamics across various sectors, with a particular focus on residential, commercial, and industrial infrastructure.

During his time at Anixter and now at Leviton, Steve has excelled in driving customer-centric initiatives and fostering cross-functional collaboration. He hosts and moderates thought leadership sessions on infrastructure for the built environment related to healthcare, retail, hospitality, higher education, data center and multi-family environments.

Beyond his professional achievements, Steve’s advocacy for community engagement and sustainability reflects his commitment to making a positive impact beyond the business realm. Steve is an active member of the Leviton CN2030 Sustainability team and is currently collaborating with GBI and other ecosystem partners to build what’s next, to light, power and connect everyday spaces.

Megan Baker | Vice President of Engagement, Green Building Initiative

As Vice President of Engagement, Megan Baker is responsible for development and implementation of GBI’s global marketing and communications strategies. She joined GBI in 2017 and held roles in client services, business development, and education before rising to her current role in 2023.

Megan is a passionate advocate for increasing accessibility of sustainable, healthy, and resilient buildings through education and assessment. She creates strategic partnerships, identifies recognition opportunities, and opens markets to increase the visibility of GBI’s flagship offering: Green Globes certification. Her outreach efforts helped GBI reach 500 million certified square feet in 2022 and more than quadruple membership in three years.

Megan serves on ASAE’s Marketing Professionals Advisory Committee and was a subcommittee chair in 2022. She also held the position of Membership Chair for the SAME Pikes Peak Post in Colorado in 2022-2022.Megan has significant experience in content creation, event management, public speaking, stakeholder relations, and strategic planning, and has worked in luxury hospitality and environmental consulting. She holds an MBA from Regis University with a specialty in Operations Management and a BA in Geography from the University of Mary Washington. She resides in Colorado with her family and two dogs

Jack Bidlack | Director of Strategic Initiatives, Information and Engineering Technologies, Northern Virginia Community College

Jack Bidlack currently serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Information and Engineering Technologies Division at Northern Virginia Community College. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army after achieving the rank of sergeant in 1990. He earned a B.B.A. with a concentration in Human Resource Management at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) in 1992 and returned to EMU to complete his Masters of Human Resources and Organizational Development in 2011. 

He spent more than 20 years in the food retail industry as both operator and owner before transitioning to higher education, where he has been since 2008. In his current role he is tasked with participating in the development of funding proposals and managing grant and contractual programs. The targeted funding comes from federal, state, foundation and industry. In addition, he collaborates with industry partners to develop workforce initiatives (work-based learning) that can directly benefit IET program students and graduates. 

Anna Figueroa | DCO Technician I, CoreSite

Anna is a Data Center Operations Technician II at CoreSite, an American Tower Company, where she plays a pivotal role in ensuring the seamless operation of critical infrastructure. Her skills and dedication have earned her recent nomination for the NVTC Data Center Awards’ Rising Star category. As a technician, Anna’s expertise and innovative approach have made her an invaluable asset to her team and distinguished within her field.

Garrett Helmer | Chief Revenue Officer, Cohesion

Garrett has spent the past 25 years working with technology companies such as Cisco, Box, Motorola solutions, and several start-ups. Most recently he joined Cohesion, a smart building software platform. Throughout his career journey, he’s been inside several data centers, network operation centers, and security operation centers – from a single server closet to large, modern, and sophisticated facilities. He’s fascinated by our growing dependency on data centers and their sustainability implications. In his current capacity, he sees software and automation becoming increasingly crucial drivers of efficiency and better sustainability as the physical footprint and energy consumption of data centers both continue to grow significantly in the new age of AI.  

John Khazraee | CEO, InnovateSphere Consulting

John Khazraee is the CEO of InnovateSphere Consulting, focusing on integrating technology with sustainability goals. His organization specializes in delivering advanced AI, ML, and Cloud Computing solutions to optimize data center efficiency in the U.S. and APAC regions, focusing on reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. He is dedicated to advancing environmental stewardship through innovative technological progress.

John has more than ten years of experience working at top technology companies like Microsoft Japan, IBM, and Oracle. He is committed to leading innovations and driving significant changes in sustainable data management practices. John is involved in community projects and advocates for sustainable principles in the tech industry, in addition to his professional work. He volunteers for sustainability projects, particularly aiding in the education of clean water filtration systems in underprivileged areas of Southeast Asia.

John is a #1 Amazon best-selling author and has co-authored two books published by IBM. He has a Master of Business Administration from Cornell University and a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida.

Elizabeth Larsen | Senior Sustainability Engineer, Bala Consulting Engineers

Elizabeth is Bala’s Senior Sustainability Engineer and leads the Sustainability Operations Team, a team of engineers and technical experts who educate and research sustainability strategies and initiatives to help reduce the built environment’s impact on climate change. She is passionate about designing projects that prioritize well-being, reducing our impact on the planet, and better serving our communities.

In addition to leading Bala’s Sustainability Initiatives, Elizabeth also plays an educational role as a speaker and as an adjunct professor at Villanova University. Elizabeth has been a featured speaker at companies of various sizes up and down the East Coast and has presented at sustainability-focused conferences and on panels for organizations such as 7×24, CTBUH, Greenbuild United, and more. 

Elizabeth has a Civil and Environmental Engineering degree from South Dakota School of Mines and completed her Master’s in Sustainable Engineering from Villanova University. Elizabeth’s Master’s Thesis focused on the study of “Healthy Buildings – Healthy People: How Implementing Health Building Strategies Benefits Your Organization from a Holistic Systems Perspective.” She recognizes and evangelizes the strong relationship between sustainability and health and well-being as it relates to our individual and collective actions, especially in the way we build.

J.D. Lambert | Sustainable Design Leader – Mission Critical, HKS, Inc.

J.D. Lambert is a Sustainable Design Leader at HKS for the Mission Critical practice. A purpose-driven and process-oriented designer, she helps clients align their business goals with their relationship to the environment. In each project, she focuses on optimizing embodied carbon and considers the built environment’s impact on the circular economy. J.D. holds a Master of Architecture degree from the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Phill Lawson-Shanks | Chief Innovation & Technology Officer, Aligned Data Centers

Phill has 25+ years of experience identifying new opportunities for further growth of leading data center infrastructure, network architecture, and cloud solutions in the US and abroad. As chief innovation officer at Aligned, Phill is responsible for the management of revenue generation and profitability objectives, as well as championing key innovation, technology, and sustainability strategies aimed at maximizing new business development. Prior to joining Alined, Phill served as Chief Innovation Officer at EdgeConneX, where he was instrumental in driving strategies focused on creating the next generation of network edge-based data centers for the digital content ecosystem. Phill has also served in numerous senior executive-level positions at Virtacore, Alcatel-Lucent, Savvis (now CenturyLink Technology Solutions), and MCI (now Verizon Digital Media Services). He currently holds eight active technology patents and serves on the Board of Directors for Netrality Data Centers as well as the Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA) Advisory Board.

Karen Petersburg | Vice President of Development and Construction, PowerHouse Data Centers

With over 16 years of diverse design and construction experience in the mission critical industry, Karen Petersburg is the Vice President of Development and Construction at PowerHouse Data Centers, a subsidiary of American Real Estate Partners. At PowerHouse, Petersburg oversees the planning and execution of all data center projects. Having successfully managed complex sustainable data center design and engineering projects, including campus developments, hyperscale built-to-suits, and major infrastructure renovations, Petersburg brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the GBI Advancing Sustainable Data Centers conference. 

Beginning her career in the construction industry at a concrete sub-contractor firm, she moved into a project engineering role with a General Contractor where she first fit-out high-end commercial buildings and then worked on data centers, igniting her passion for all things technical. After building her foundational knowledge of the collaboration required between the critical data center equipment, she commissioned mechanical systems and managed projects for a commissioning firm. She then transitioned to managing the design and commissioning of data center projects up and down the East Coast for Digital Realty, where she worked for over seven years before joining PowerHouse Data Centers. 

Petersburg actively contributes to the data center industry as the president of the local 7×24 DC Chapter, with board and committee positions for the Data Center Coalition and the Nomad Futurist Foundation. She also supports local non-profits aiming to increase STEM participation among local youth.

Petersburg holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government as well as a Masters of Arts in Philosophy from Virginia Tech, along with several industry certifications from CNet Training/Uptime Institute and Data Center Dynamics.

Buddy Rizer | Executive Director of Economic Development, Loudoun County, Virginia

Buddy Rizer serves as the Executive Director for economic development in Loudoun County, Virginia, which was named the 2021 Economic Development Organization of the Year by the International Economic Development Council. He leads the agency responsible for encouraging growth and developing relationships with Loudoun’s business community in both the commercial and agricultural-based business sectors. During his tenure, Rizer and his team have attracted more than $50 billion in new commercial investment and more than 50 thousand new jobs. During this time, the growth in the commercial based has help lower the tax rate in Loudoun by more than 41 cents on the dollar, saving residents thousands of dollars annually on their tax bill. 

In 2007, Mr. Rizer joined Loudoun County and helped build “Data Center Alley” into the largest concentration of data centers in the world. He also has extensive international business development experience in China, France, Germany, Russia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Finland, Taiwan, Japan, India, Korea, Ghana, Uruguay, and the United Arab Emirates. 

Mr. Rizer has been named a Tech Titan 7 times by Washingtonian Magazine (2017 – 2023), has been named one of the 50 most influential Virginians 6 times by Virginia Business Magazine (2018 – 2023), a 4-time member of Virginia’s Power 500 (2020 – 2023) and was three times named to the Washington Business Journal’s Power 100 as one of the most influential businesspeople in Washington, DC (2020, 2022, 2023). 

Mr. Rizer serves as the Chair of the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance (NOVA EDA), is a member of the Board of Trustees for Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Past-Chair of the Northern Virginia Community College Foundation Board, Secretary of the Go Virginia Region 7 Council. He is on the Board of Directors for the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and the Washington Airports Task Force (WATF). He is also the Chair of the Rivana at Innovation Station Community Development Authority.

Mr. Rizer is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), a certified Entrepreneurship Development Professional (EDP) and a graduate of Virginia Tech’s Local Government Management Graduate Certificate Program.

Emily Sanders | Sustainability & ESG Consultant, Jacobs

Emily is a sustainability specialist and has conducted multiple life cycle assessments (LCAs) across diverse sectors. Her career began in the United Kingdom, where she analyzed the environmental impact of projects in the construction and defense sectors. She transformed data insights into sustainable solutions, working with government agencies to implement net zero strategies, and conduct investigations into natural capital opportunities to better inform land management techniques.

In May 2024, she transitioned to Jacobs Canada, where she continued her work quantifying environmental impacts and implementing solutions. Her work involves conducting LCAs for electrical utility projects, electrical equipment, Data Centers, and construction. She continues to expand her experience into sustainability sectors including carbon management, circular economy and ESG reporting. This broad range of experience, and interdisciplinary skills helps her drive successful sustainable solutions driven by project specific data.

Jeff Sprau | CEO, Legence

At the helm of Legence, a Blackstone Portfolio Company, CEO Jeff Sprau has helped create an Energy Transition Accelerator™ that is transforming the built environment to pave the way for a sustainable future, faster. Legence is the leading integrated provider of energy efficiency and sustainability solutions throughout the entire building lifecycle. For over a century, Legence has provided advisory, engineering, contracting, and maintenance services for high-performance and mission-critical facilities across a diverse range of industries, including data center, semiconductor, biopharma, healthcare, education, and government.

With more than 25 years of expertise in building efficiency, Jeff is adept at identifying and nurturing carbon-reduction opportunities, turning them into profitable realities. Having spearheaded a series of major acquisitions over the past few years, Legence’s nationwide portfolio of companies and work around the country now brings in more than $1B in revenue annually under Jeff’s leadership. 

With a workforce of 5000+ craftspeople, energy efficiency engineers, and sustainability experts, Legence has undertaken more than 10M square feet of net zero energy design and implemented more than 100MW of renewable generation for clients like Berkshire Hathaway, the Department of Defense, Intel, MetLife investments, and more.

Vicki Worden | President & CEO, Green Building Initiative

Entrepreneur, sustainability professional, and now as President & CEO of the Green Building Initiative (GBI), an international nonprofit dedicated to improving the impact of buildings on climate and society, Vicki Worden has supported a myriad of industries, corporations, government agencies, and international nonprofits progress sustainability goals while increasing ROI.

In an age of great change in the commercial real estate industry, Worden spearheaded creation of a decarbonization rating system for commercial buildings that launched in late 2023 with early participation from 170 buildings, across various verticals. GBI’s Green Globes Journey to Net Zero is accessible to all building owners, providing third-party assessed progress reports containing recommendations for further reduction in site energy and emissions towards a goal of net zero certification.  

With Worden at the helm, GBI continues its efforts towards global expansion. Known in North America as one of only two nationally recognized commercial building certification programs, GBI’s Green Globes certification now celebrates certification of nearly 650 million square feet of commercial space and expanding into several global markets, including Central and South America, as well as the Middle East.

In her previous role as President of Worden Associates, Inc., Worden provided sustainability consulting and strategic planning expertise for a diverse range of industries including solar, wind, parking, furniture, mattress, composites, wood products, and rainwater harvesting. She is a member of Women Executives in Building and a former Chair of the National Institute of Building Sciences Consultative Council. 

Worden holds an MBA from Loyola University in Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science & International Relations from West Chester University.