Let's be fair to some of the Internet's most recognizable brands - Apple, Facebook, and Twitter have hundreds of millions of users utilizing their services daily. A large userbase does come with a massive footprint. Some of these companies have attempted to show environmental stewardship - Facebook has their own fan page documenting their "green" initiatives, and Apple documents their work towards using recyclable materials and less packaging material in their products, amongst other initiatives, on their site. But what about their energy consumption practices? According to the pro-environment activist group Greenpeace, these companies fail in that regard due to their reliance on "dirty" energy sources for their data centres. In particular, Apple is the worst offender of the lot. This criticism of Apple comes as they plan to open a new data centre in Maiden, North Carolina, within the next month or two.
As The Guardian reports, the top offenders are those that have a heavy reliance on coal energy to power their data centres. Apple's data centres are powered by 54.5% coal, with Facebook close behind at 53.2% and Twitter at 42.5%. The Greenpeace report gave all three companies a failing "F." Other notable companies such as IBM and HP are not better off, coming at 51.6% and 49.4% respectively.
However, as Reuters reports, Greenpeace's report gave IBM a "B" for the company's work to reduce their carbon footprint and not purchase carbon offsets in the process. Other notable tech companies, such as Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft, fared decently. Yahoo was given a "B" for purchasing power from clean energy sources and also avoiding carbon offsets like IBM, and Microsoft receiving a "C" for modest efforts in addressing key clean power issues. Google was also awarded a "B" for its Google Energy subsidary, of which Google plans to purchase wind power from.
The lead author of the report, Greenpeace's Gary Cook, stated that customers want to be assured they're "not contributing to global warming or future Fukushimas" when using services provided by Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. Although data centres make up roughly 2% of global energy consumption, that figure is set to quadruple in a decade given the high growth of cloud-enabled services.
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