Sometimes a customized approach is the best solution. An argument can certainly be made for this with Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Apple is the latest company to make a commitment to green energy after criticism by the environmental organization, Greenpeace.
Location, Location, Location
The Greenpeace report criticized many of the major data centers for their reliance on fossil fuels. Based on energy efficiency and use of renewable sources, Apple had dismal scores. For other companies located in the Pacific Northwest, it was a sideways move, considering that two-thirds of the region’s power comes from hydroelectricity, the primary source of renewable energy.
Targeting the Major Users
Focusing on data centers is an effective way to make a dent in overall energy consumption and to show the viability of standalone solutions. Consider a few facts about the resources the “Cloud” draws upon. Based on 2007 global figures, the combined consumption would rank as the fifth highest in the world. What’s more, the energy demand is expected to triple in the following years.
Companies with the worst scores include:
The Greenpeace report criticized companies that rely heavily on fossil fuels, specifically, coal, to supply their energy needs. For some companies, it’s a function of where the business is located. With companies like IBM in North Carolina, coal is a primary source of energy. This is where standalone solutions can come into play.
While the infrastructure of a particular area may not support a large portion of clean energy, it is an opportunity to equip an existing site with solar or wind power solutions. The department store chain, Kohl’s, is a perfect example. The company has implemented solar power with solar arrays on store rooftops in many of its locations.
These standalone solutions avoid the negative aspects of these otherwise clean forms of energy. The rooftop installations of Kohl do not tap into precious water resources. Other companies going the route of wind energy can avoid the heating effect associated with wind farms.
The commitment that Apple has made hopefully will provide the impetus for other major energy users to make the move toward green solutions, if just on an individual basis. Every move into the green means reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a healthier environment.