Google's motto of “Do No Evil” apparently extends to its environmental policies, as the company grabbed the top spot on Greenpeace's Cool IT Leaderboard ranking for overall green practices. Google climbed to the No. 1 position for the first time, ranking high due to recent disclosure of its carbon footprint as well as its investment in utility projects such as a large-scale solar project near Sacramento.
Other reasons it made the top of the list include the RechargeIT.org project, which Google designed to demonstrate the technology used in plug-in electric vehicles and to accelerate their adoption. Its other actions include increasing its renewable energy purchasing and creating a subsidiary called Google Energy.
Greenpeace's Cool IT Leaderboard ranks major information and communication technology companies on the quantity and strength of their green practices, primarily energy solutions--with the fifth, most recent version just released.
It's also closely related to the Smart 2020 Report, published in 2008, which highlighted opportunities for companies in technology to contribute to change in energy production and consumption. That study estimated that the IT sector contributes to 2 percent of all global GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, mainly due to the energy appetites of data centers, telecoms, computers and other devices.
In addition to the constant stream of energy required for mobile devices, servers, and myriad other electronics, more companies are paying attention to the supply chain, Greenpeace said in this week's report. And many companies featured are identifying places in the manufacturing chain where greenhouse gas emissions can be better managed, helping to drive investment away from a dirty energy supply. Speaking of that constant stream of energy, it's easy to see how quickly it adds up when looking at the 2007 Electricity Consumption chart from Greenpeace's Make IT Green Report (below).
There's no slowing down our demand for more and more electricity. Based on current projections, the combined electricity appetite of the data centers and telecommunications networks that made up the cloud is 623 billion kilowatt hours globally. Data centers, driving much of the demand, are often taxed by inadequacies in the power grids. India's IT sector, for example, is reliant on diesel, so its CO2 emissions are particularly heavy.
However, looking at the list of actions taken by companies on the Cool IT Leaderboard, there is an obvious momentum towards clean and renewable energy--such as Fujitsu establishing goals to reduce carbon emissions, and Cisco ensuring that suppliers reduce emissions during manufacturing.