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The Greenest of Them All: The EPA Releases Index of Top 30 Green Energy Telcos and Tech Companies

Green Energy Blog Post - Cloudscene

Whilst data centers consume 3% of the world’s generated power and account for approximately 2% of greenhouse gas emissions, the industry is moving quickly to reform its environmental impact and focus its efforts on green energy.

The topic of renewable energy and green power not only draws interest from the media and the general public, but it is becoming an important measure of success in the eyes of customers, shareholders and governments across the globe.

Known for having a carbon footprint equivalent to the airline industry, the data center sector has been feeling the heat over the last decade, leading to operators becoming more proactive in minimizing the environmental impact of their facilities.

According to a recent report by Technavio, the worldwide green data center market is forecast to grow by 14% annually, exceeding $55 billion by 2021 as customers increasingly make sustainability a top priority when selecting a provider. This is driving data center operators to seek ways to improve energy efficiency, minimize water usage and reduce their carbon footprint.

In 2001, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched its Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program that encourages enterprises to utilize green energy to minimize their environmental impact. In return for recognition and technical guidance, partners agree to use green power for all or part of their electricity consumption. The partnership currently includes over 1,400 organizations, together consuming more than 40 billion kWh of green power per annum.

This month, the EPA published its latest Green Power Partnership (GPP) Top 30 Tech & Telecoms index, which lists the largest green energy users among technology and telecommunications partners. These enterprises together consume over 13.8 billion kWh annually – equivalent to 1.3 million average American homes.

The GPP Tech and Telecoms Top 30 includes some of the important players in the global data center space, such as Digital Realty and Equinix. Here, we’ve taken a look at the GPP’s index and summarized the environmental credentials, renewable energy targets and progress of those who operate data center facilities:

Microsoft 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #2
  • Green Power Percentage: 100%
  • Green Power Resources: Solar & Wind 

Microsoft consumes over 3 billion kWh of green power annually, and has been 100% powered by renewable energy since 2014. The purchase of green power, together with various energy efficiency measures and carbon reduction projects, has resulted in a carbon-neutral footprint for the company since June 2012. Microsoft has invested in a range of programs to minimize its environmental impact, focusing on areas such as facilities, commuting and recycling of food waste. The company’s sustainability commitment extends to suppliers, who are also required to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. More from Microsoft

Google 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #3
  • Green Power Percentage: 47%
  • Green Power Resources: Biogas, Small-hydro, Solar & Wind

Google consumes 1.8 billion kWh of green energy each year. The company has been a carbon-neutral business since 2007 and is on-track to achieve its objective of 100% renewable energy use this year. Google’s data centers are some of the world’s most energy-efficient, consuming 50% less power than most other facilities. Google is also the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy, having signed 20 renewable power agreements to procure a total of 2.6 gigawatts of solar and wind energy – enough to supply 900,000 US homes. Furthermore, the tech giant purchases carbon offsets to bring its carbon footprint down to zero. More from Google

Apple 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #4
  • Green Power Percentage: 100%
  • Green Power Resources: Biogas, Biomass, Small-hydro, Solar & Wind

Apple consumes 1.2 billion kWh of green energy per annum, having achieved 93% renewable energy use globally, and 100% in 24 countries including the USA, UK, China and Australia. The company is also progressing toward a closed-loop supply chain, whereby all new products will one day be built using only recycled materials. By 2020, Apple and its suppliers will procure over 4 gigawatts of annual clean power worldwide, including 2 gigawatts in China. Small changes such as prioritizing aluminum smelted using hydropower rather than fossil fuels has resulted in 60% and 48% less greenhouse gas emissions associated with iPhone and MacBook Pro casings respectively. More from Apple

Digital Realty 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #6
  • Green Power Percentage: 25%
  • Green Power Resources: Wind 

Digital Realty consumes 0.7 billion kWh of green power annually, accounting for 25% of its total power use. In 2016, the company committed to purchasing 400,000 megawatt-hours of wind power, completely offsetting its US energy usage and cutting its annual carbon footprint by 275,000 tons. Digital Realty also offers energy credits to customers under its Clean Start Program, which procured 100,000 MWh of credits in 2015. In water-constrained locations, the company pioneered the use of energy-efficient cooling systems that eliminate the need for water, reducing demand on potable water systems and generating savings of over 300 million gallons of water per year, compared to traditional chilled water systems. More from Digital Realty

Equinix 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #7
  • Green Power Percentage: 43%
  • Green Power Resources: Wind 

Equinix consumes 0.6 billion kWh of green energy each year (43% of its total power consumption) and in 2015 became the first colocation provider to announce a long-term objective of 100% clean and renewable energy use across its global operations, with an interim objective of 50% in 2017. The company’s goal is to provide carbon-neutral data center and interconnection services for its customers around the world. Under deals signed in 2015, Equinix agreed to purchase a combined 225 MW from the Rush Springs Wind Farm in Oklahoma and the Wake Wind Farm in Texas, which together can generate sufficient wind power to cover 80% of the company’s US energy demands. More from Equinix

Rackspace 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #9
  • Green Power Percentage: 36%
  • Green Power Resources: Wind 

Rackspace consumes 0.1 billion kWh of green energy per annum, accounting for 36% of its total annual power use. Every year the company raises its renewable energy use by 5%, with a long-term target of 100% by 2026. Rackspace’s Global Energy Policy focuses on renewable energy, conservation, advocacy and innovative technology to improve the energy industry. More than 50% of Rackspace employees work in LEED Gold and BREEAM certified offices and data centers. More from Rackspace

Iron Mountain 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #12
  • Green Power Percentage: 40%
  • Green Power Resources: Wind 

Iron Mountain Information Management LLC consumes 93 million kWh of green power annually (40% of its total energy use). The company began evaluating the environmental impact of its business in 2012, setting various green energy goals for 2015 including zero increase in greenhouse gas emissions, a 3% reduction in energy use, and a six-fold increase in the use of renewable energy. As part of its program to achieve these goals, Iron Mountain’s LED Retrofit Project replaced over 7,000 light fixtures with energy-efficient LED lamps. More from Iron Mountain

Zayo 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #13
  • Green Power Percentage: 25%
  • Green Power Resources: Biomass, Small-hydro and Wind

Every year, Zayo procures over 86 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy certificates (RECs) to power its colocation facilities across the United States. In a bit to improve the company’s efficiency and reduce energy consumption, Zayo has committed to upgrading power and HVAC equipment, enhancing airflow management, replacing lighting and other strategies across 46 data centers. More from Zayo

IBM SoftLayer 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #15
  • Green Power Percentage: 100%
  • Green Power Resources: Wind 

IBM Bluemix Infrastructure is 100% powered by green energy, consuming 66 million kWh of Texas wind power each year to support its US data centers. Beyond SoftLayer, IBM has set a goal to procure 20% of its total energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. IBM is also working with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto to develop a new technique of spraying solar cells onto flexible surfaces using colloidal quantum dots – a major step towards inexpensive spray-on solar cells. More from IBM Softlayer

VMware 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #17
  • Green Power Percentage: 50%
  • Green Power Resources: Wind 

VMware consumes 60 million kWh of green power annually, 50% of its total energy consumption. The company’s virtualization technology has also helped customers to avoid 603 million MWh of power consumption or 340 million tons of CO2 emissions – equivalent to the power used by 43% of US homes in a single year. VMware has a global target of carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy use by 2020, and has partnered with Restore the Earth Foundation to plant one million acres of trees. More from VMWare

Green House Data 

  • EPA Top 30 Tech & Telecom Ranking: #25
  • Green Power Percentage: 100%
  • Green Power Resources: Biogas, Biomass, Geothermal, Small-hydro, Solar & Wind 

Green House Data, a colocation and cloud-hosting provider headquartered in Wyoming, is 100% powered by wind energy, consuming 20 million kWh each year. The company has been pursuing green enterprise computing since 2007, and its data centers are designed to be 40-75% more efficient than average, with a typical Power Usage Effectiveness of 1.25 or below. Green House Data achieves these results through a combination of virtualization, modular pod design, hot/cold aisle containment and Renewable Energy Credits. More from Green House Data

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