by Tracey de Morsella, Green Economy Post. Follow Tracey on Twitter @greeneconpost
Greenpeace announced the release of the third version of their Cool IT Leaderboard, which reveals how some global IT companies are leading the industry by proving the potential of IT solutions to address climate change and reshape energy use. The rankings are based on three categories: Solutions — the technologies that a company has developed to improve efficiency; Advocacy — how much effort companies, and particularly their CEOs, are putting toward the passage of global climate legislation; and Footprint — the commitments companies have made to reduce their own emissions.
Greenpeace is urging IT and communications companies to get involved with energy policy and take advantage of the commercial possibilities in lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The NGO estimates that applying IT to power generation, transportation, and buildings can result in 15 percent emissions reduction over the next 10 years. They want evidence that IT companies are not only developing solutions for their customers, but measuring and reporting their own carbon and energy savings potential. It notes that cloud computing, a major IT industry initiative, poses “a major challenge” to IT’s positive contributions to climate control by centralizing compute power and resources in energy-hungry data centers. Read Greenpeace’s new report, Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change, which shows that cloud-based computing has potentially a much larger carbon footprint than previously estimated.
“The company bottom line coupled with the environmental bottom line, the need to curb a growing greenhouse gas emissions, should send the IT industry to the front lines in the battle for a clean energy economy,” said Greenpeace campaigner Casey Harrell.”The sector needs to step up its policy advocacy now.”
Why Cisco Climbed To The Top
Cisco has vaulted to the top of the Cool IT Leaderboard, doubling its score from the previous version by demonstrating the effectiveness of its greenhouse emissions-saving solutions, such as smart grid technology and office energy management. Cisco has two high profile green initiatives Mediator, which is a monitoring device that loads up the energy profiles of various devices in your data center or office building and EnergyWise, which is a management system for managing the power consumption profile of virtually anything attached to a network. For Earth Day last month, Greenpeace organized a panel on IT and climate change which was hosted by Cisco and had representatives from Cisco, Google, IBM, and Microsoft.
Ericsson Debuts at Second Place
Ericsson debuted at second place in the rankings, in part, because of its rigorous Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) of its equipment and solutions and strong public methodology, which also accounts for the type of power communications equipment it utilizes in different locations. Ericsson’s CEO emphasizing the role of IT solutions in reducing emissions in a clean and prosperous economy before and during the Copenhagen Climate Summit.
Fujitsu Lauded For Becoming First Company To Set a Credible Goal For Amount of Carbon Saving for Consumer
Fujitsu also topped the list at 3rd place, because, like Ericsson, the company developed a strong methodology for measuring net impact of their solutions, which is essential for evaluating the impact of IT on a broad scale. Fujitsu has a comprehensive system to measure the before-and-after impacts of its solutions. It also provides the metric for emissions savings, including the energy consumption of these solutions. Fujitsu is also the first company to set a credible goal for the overall amount of carbon savings provided to its customers.
HP Shows Commitment to Reduce GHG Emissions of HP Facilities
HP scored top marks for its commitment to reduce the GHG emissions of HP-owned and HP-leased facilities 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2013 on an absolute basis. Voluntary renewable energy purchases (including credits and energy generated on-site) represented 3.6 percent of HP’s electricity use in 2009 in addition to the renewable energy in the power grid. HP is also working on accounting for Embedded Energy used during production of hardware required for solutions. This will provide more accurate estimations of emissions reductions over the entire lifecycle of a solution.
IBM Shines as a Green Business Advocate
IBM was singled out for its Smart Planet initiative, which advocates for IT companies to take advantage of the commercial possibilities in lowering greenhouse gas emissions. IBM offers a wide range of climate solutions as part of its ‘Smarter Planet’ program and provides some case studies of savings achieved. IBM also provided case studies for traffic reduction in Stockholm and Smart Grid data. IBM loss points for the limited amount of data provided.
Google Loses Points for Lack of Transparency
Google scored well, in part, because of its PowerMeter technology. Google’s data centers run efficiently, consuming about half the power as typical data centers by optimizing the chip, power pack design, and building cooling. The company was also lauded for its advocacy efforts. Google has put forward a clear vision for moving to a clean energy economy. The report notes. “Google has also shown recent leadership in calling for the need for consumer access to information on their energy consumption, such as the data to be generated from smart meters.”
However, Google landed in 6th place because they have no emission reduction targets and because it does not release or disclose its own emissions, while the other technology companies have better transparency practices. Greenpeace feels this policy weakens its ability to be an effective advocate. According to CNET, when contacted to inquiry about its transparency policies, a Google representative said that it doesn’t disclose information on the size of its operations for competitive reasons.
Who Landed on The Bottom of The List
The companies at the bottom of the list include Panasonic, in last place with 14 points; Sony with 16 points; and Sharp with 18 points. Panasonic has not made public any case study data that showcases the emissions savings of these solutions. It also has not been clearer about the solutions it offers beyond energy efficient products nor shown leadership on advocacy of climate and energy policies. Sony loss point for not being prescriptive about the types of climate and energy policies it supports. Sharp’s greenhouse gas emission reduction numbers are low globally and has shown only cautious support of Japan’s Prime Minister Hatoyama’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
“IT companies can help shape policies to rapidly deploy IT solutions to help slow and reverse climate change, while increasing their revenue and growing in a more responsible way,” Greenpeace Campaigner Casey Harrell said in a statement. “The company bottom line coupled with the environmental bottom line, the need to curb a growing greenhouse gas emissions, should send the IT industry to the front lines in the battle for a clean energy economy. The sector needs to step up its policy advocacy now.”
You can download the full Cool IT Leaderboard at the Greenpeace web site and the Greenpeace’s new report, Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change, which shows that cloud-based computing has potentially a much larger carbon footprint than previously estimated. Similar to Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics, the Cool IT Challenge is updated regularly. Version 4 of the Leaderboard is slated for publication later this year.
© 2010, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.