How clean are the websites you’re visiting?

How clean are the websites you’re visiting?

Most of us spend hours a day on the internet. But have you ever taken the time to think about how your page clicks can contribute to the carbon footprints of some of the largest tech companies in the world?

While it seems less than intuitive, the connection between your browsing history and sustainability is fairly simple. In order to manage things like online orders, file hosting and general web traffic, companies utilize large data centers to manage the back end of the internet. While some companies like Google, Apple and Facebook have taken steps to be sure that their data centers are powered by renewable resources, not every tech company has made the same effort.

Greenpeace recently published a report about the sustainability of the data centers used by many Silicon Valley and tech companies. Twitter, LinkedIn and Amazon (as well as a few companies that use its web hosting services like Pinterest and Vimeo) received low marks while Google, Facebook and Apple top the rankings. Microsoft and Yahoo round out the middle of the pack.

The grades for these companies were determined by examining the energy transparency, renewable energy commitment, deployment and advocacy, and the energy efficiency measures taken by the data centers used by tech companies. The report also found that six major cloud brands – Apple, Box, Facebook, Google, Rackspace, and Salesforce – have committed to a goal of powering data centers with 100 percent renewable energy.

The shift to more sustainable data centers doesn’t just effect technology companies. Because of the pressure put forth by leading companies for renewable energy generation for their facilities located in North Carolina, Duke Energy, the largest utility in the U.S., adopted a Green Source Rider, opening the market to renewable electricity purchases for large customers in North Carolina.

Edelman Silicon Valley is hosting an event discussing this topic on May 6, 2014. Moderated by Edelman Cleantech Team Lead Joey Marquart with panelists Mukesh Khattar, Oracle, Thomas Odenwald, SAP, and Jonathan Koomey, Stanford University. The event will be a lively discussion about how to efficiently and sustainably utilize data centers.

Sustainability in the tech industry continues to be an issue to keep an eye on. The next time you surf the internet, remember to support the cleaner companies with your page views.


Photo Credit: ExtremeTech