The energy consumption of data centers (DCs) has dramatically increased in recent years, primarily due to the massive computing demands driven by communications, banking, online retail, and entertainment services. In today's data centers, the cooling and infrastructure operations require almost the same energy as the IT operations. The large energy consumption in data centers prompted government agencies, industries, professional organizations, and academic institutions to investigate sustainable growth paths. We discuss such scenarios based on current trends and projections and propose the required innovations to achieve a 10 fold increase in "performance per Watt" of IT operations. We discuss three possible technology components that would improve the operational performance of data centers: (1) integration of renewable energy sources (2) increasing energy efficiency through IT consolidation and workload optimization, and (3) multifunctional sensor networks for better cooling and infrastructure management. We discuss the key requirements and how these technologies can be combined to achieve a sustainable path. © 2012 IEEE.