SAN FRANCISCO -- Greenpeace issued its annual report on the energy efficiency of Internet companies, praising Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and other major providers of online services for improved use of energy resources.
Apple, which was given a low score by the environmental group two years ago, made the most gains in transparency, internal conservation efforts and the use and advocacy of renewable energy, Greepeace said in a report.
Box Inc., Google Inc., Rackspace Hosting Inc. and Salesforce.com Inc. were also praised for their efforts to run their data centers entirely on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. Amazon.com Inc. was singled out in the note, titled “Clicking Clean: How Companies Are Creating the Green Internet,” as the only technology company not moving in the right direction.
“It’s not often that we get an opportunity to celebrate companies’ progress,” said Gary Cook, the Greenpeace legislative director who authored the report. “We’re not used to this, but there’s been a huge change in the past two years.”
The group, which began a campaign two years ago called “How Clean is Your Cloud?,” looked at how technology providers are managing their energy needs as they build data centers for delivering software, music, movies and information to customers via the Internet. The servers handling the data not only consume electricity but require air conditioning to keep them from overheating.
“This is about a change in economics,” said Adam Browning, executive director of the San Francisco-based Vote Solar initiative. “Making big pioneering moves highlights the positive economic impact of renewables.”
Amazon, which has an Internet cloud-computing business called Amazon Web Services, will have to do more to boost its use of renewable energy, Cook said. Greenpeace may begin a campaign to pressure Amazon customers such as Netflix Inc. and Spotify Ltd. to move to other providers with greener credentials.
“They’re the absolute laggards in the industry right now,” Cook said of Amazon. “All the other companies have made some incredible changes in the past 24 months, but Amazon has remained totally silent.”
Cook cited how Apple, Facebook and Google, which all own huge data centers in North Carolina, pushed the local utility to offer industrial customers a special rate for renewable power sources. Apple operates a solar farm at its facility in Maiden, North Carolina, and is planning on adding solar capabilities in Oregon and Nevada.
Greenpeace awarded Apple three “A”s and one “B,” tying with Facebook for the highest marks. Two years ago, the iPhone maker received three “D”s and one “F” for its main green energy categories.
“They have effectively secured enough renewable energy to meet their entire needs,” Cook said. “Apple has made good on its commitment to be 100 percent renewable.”
Greenpeace’s Cook also credited Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook for taking a far more public role on energy strategy. The company also hired Lisa Jackson, the former chief of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, as Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives.
Apple declined to comment for this story or make Jackson available for an interview.
Cook also credited Facebook for pushing a new “Open Hardware” movement that lets companies share information on how to create the most energy efficient computers and networking gear.
Copyright 2014 Bloomberg
Lead image: pio3 via Shutterstock