Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Cloud Computing Companies
If you own or manage a cloud computing company, your company might not be as sustainable as you think. In fact, there are many common practices in the industry that lead to vast amounts of unnecessary pollution and waste.
You should ensure that your business is aware of how to deal with these issues for the good of the planet and for the good of your business as well. Becoming greener helps companies save money, attract new customers, and elevate their brand above their competitors.
How Do Cloud Computing Companies Affect the Environment?
Cloud computing companies today can have a major impact on the environment around them and the planet in several ways including:
- Excessive Power Consumption
- Unsustainable Equipment Manufacturing
- Irresponsible Equipment Disposal
- Waste-Producing Office Operations
- Sub-Optimal Customer Acquisition
Here’s a quick overview of how to make cloud computing companies more eco-friendly. This sustainability guide is a great primer for those just getting started with becoming more environmentally responsible and running a more sustainable operation.
Tip #1: Use Renewable Energy
Cloud computing companies rely heavily on air conditioning to keep their hardware cool and functioning optimally. These air conditioners use up a vast amount of power. In fact, a single data center can use the same amount of power that 50,000 homes use. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most data centers do not use sustainable energy to power their facilities.
In order to reduce energy consumption, use more efficient AC units and make the switch to renewable energy. Buying energy-efficient air conditioning units will reduce the amount of total power used by your company, and using renewable energy such as wind or solar to power your business will further reduce emissions and will continuously save your company money.
Tip #2: Use Sustainably Manufactured Hardware
The manufacturing of hardware that cloud computing companies use generates a vast amount of waste. This is because the material sourcing, manufacturing, and transport of the cloud computing companies are extremely resource intensive and have been linked to carbon emissions, toxic waste, and unsustainable mining practices.
Ensuring that the hardware you use is manufactured sustainably is a must in order to be truly eco-friendly. Reassess your hardware manufacturer’s commitment to sustainability to ensure that their products are manufactured and transported in an environmentally conscious manner. You can do this by checking out their website and determining whether or not they ethically and sustainably produce their hardware.
Tip #3: Recycle Hardware
There is a significant amount of waste generated with the short life cycle of most electronic products, including those products that cloud computing companies use in their facilities. This is a real problem, especially due to the fact that only 16% of all e-waste is recycled.
When disposed of, electronic waste can leak toxic materials into landfills, making the waste cloud computing companies produce even more harmful. To combat this, buy higher-quality hardware to maximize the longevity of what you buy. Additionally, recycling hardware, where either whole units or materials from old units are used in the production of new hardware, is a good option when the hardware has reached the end of its lifecycle.
Tip #4: Make your HQ and Buildings Eco-friendly
Most cloud computing companies have physical offices and warehouses in which they conduct business. Simply having a physical location leads to a lot of unnecessary waste. In order to combat this try some of these tips.
- Switch to efficient LED lighting
- Implement a recycling program for your HQ and sites
- Eliminate paper use by going digital
- Install water saving fixtures
- Buy second hand office equipment
- Choose a green web hosting service for your website
- Install motion-sensors for office lighting
- Buy remanufactured ink and toner cartridges
- Apply window film to block-out heat in the summer
- Use non-toxic cleaning products
For a complete guide on making your in-person office more sustainable, check out our 20 Sustainable Business Practices for Your Workplace and Office article.
Tip #5: Work From Home Whenever Possible
Working from home is a great alternative to in-person work due to the associated environmental issues including electrical inefficiency, unnecessary paper and plastic use from printed marketing and sales materials, and emissions from commuting. If it is realistic to do so, consider not having an in-person office at all and having only your data center be a physical location. With the advances in technology today, it is easier than ever to limit commuting and office-related emissions by working from home.
There are many benefits from working at home, as listed in our Remote Work Sustainability: Environmental Benefits Of Working At Home article, such as:
- Less Commuting – Removing the need for employees to commute to an office enhances the amount of time they have during the day, reduces energy spent on commuting, and increases the salary they can keep in their pockets.
- Fewer Emissions – Commuting less has a major impact on our air quality, reliance on fossil fuels, and reducing climate change.
- Less Office Building Space – A remote workforce also opens the possibility of companies reconsidering the office space they employ, removing large office footprints.
- Larger Pool of Candidates – Working remotely also enables companies to tap into a larger pool of potential candidates from places around the world with different skill sets.
- More Diverse Workforce – There’s also an opportunity to create a more diverse workforce by hiring from different demographics, geographical regions, and cultures.
- More Flexible Work Schedules – Working remotely enables you to give departments and employees more flexible work hours.
- Better Work-Life Balance – Working remote promotes a better work/life balance by allowing employees to move further from the office, lower their cost of living, improve their financial situation, be present for their families, and travel more.
However, switching to remote work is not perfect and can still have associated environmental impacts. To make sure your entire company’s home offices are green efficient, check out our Optimizing the At-Home Office For Green Efficiency article.
Tip #6: Attract More Customers
Getting customers to switch to cloud computing is a great way for companies to become more energy efficient and, in turn, reduce carbon emissions. This is especially the case if the environmental issues above are taken care of by the cloud computing company. The only problem is getting customers to take notice of how sustainable the companies they purchase from are.
More business for you means a more sustainable world.
For this reason, it is important that you market both the benefits of customers switching to cloud computing (saving money, protecting the planet, and adding versatility to their business), as well as the specific benefits of buying from your company. You can showcase the value of your company by demonstrating your commitment to sustainability.
Tip #7: Demonstrate Your Commitment to Sustainability
Be sure not to greenwash and mislead customers.
Consider certifying your business by a 3rd party like the Green Business Bureau (GBB) to verify your sustainable operations. By joining GBB, you can get credit for the sustainable practices that you already do, and you can receive in-depth guidance on how to solve the problems listed above. When you join the Green Business Bureau and go through the certification steps, you receive a Member Seal that you can link to on your company website. The GBB seal can help you stand out from the competition.
There are numerous ways cloud computing companies can become more sustainable, attract new customers, and stand out from the competition. The return on investment for becoming an eco-friendly business is high with associated cost savings, increased sales, employee recruitment and satisfaction, and risk reduction.
It’s up to you to promote sustainable practices in the cloud computing industry. Promoting sustainability starts with running sustainable business operations. Many cloud computing companies fail to address operations that are fundamentally damaging to the environment. Becoming a sustainable company in the tech industry will set you apart and set an example for responsible operations that benefit people and the planet.
Connor is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Providence College. He is passionate about educating others about sustainability. In his free time, he loves to spend time with his friends, go for walks in nature, and play sports.