Organizations Reduce, Rather Than Shift, Emissions

Reducing one’s carbon footprint is a daunting task. Every operational activity a business undertakes results, directly or indirectly, in carbon emissions. As businesses strive to “go carbon neutral,” they are faced with two choices: reduce operational carbon emissions, or invest in credits or emission-neutralizing efforts to “offset” emissions that cannot be avoided. Many organizations that have historically employed this “pollute and pay” philosophy are rethinking their strategy, and opting instead to make meaningful reductions in work environment CO2.

When corporate environmentalism first took off there was no easy way to cut operating carbon emissions. Instead, companies invested in a form of emissions trading by buying “carbon credits.” These credits, sold by a number of third-parties, are a way to cancel out their projected emissions. Common carbon credits include investment in renewable power or the planting of trees.

Gradually, top carbon producers have started moving away from carbon credits. Faced with legislation that could cap emission levels, organizations are looking to reduce their emissions in affordable, meaningful ways. IT is one of the first targets for reducing energy consumption; last year, IT in North America was responsible for as many tons of CO2 emissions as the airline industry. And for companies where computing power is central to success, IT can be the primary driver in reducing one’s carbon footprint.

Yahoo, the web search and services provider, recently transitioned to a ‘sustainability first’ strategy. In a recent announcement, Yahoo committed to reducing the carbon intensity of their data centers by 40% by 2014. This is a departure from their previous corporate strategy, which advocated carbon offsets. They adopted their new strategy because it allows them to have a “greater long-term, direct impact on the environment.” Using technology like virtualization, low-power processors from Intel and power management solutions, this strategy allows Yahoo to not only reduce their carbon footprint substantially, but to minimize power and cooling costs in their data centers.

For Yahoo, it’s a win-win green strategy. For other businesses, it shows that owning your carbon footprint is not only achievable; it can also help you lower costs and improve efficiencies.

About Danielle Williams

As a Category Marketing Lead for Softchoice, Danielle was responsible for designing and executing marketing campaigns which include valuable information about the current issues and challenges in the IT world.