Greenpeace has named Google the greenest in IT this year by placing the tech giant at the top of its annual Cool IT Leaderboard. The ranking of 21 tech companies is based on their efforts to use renewable energy, reduce their overall environmental footprint and promote those types of changes throughout the industry. Each company received scores on Climate Solutions, Energy Impact and Political Advocacy that determined their ranking. See the graphic below for the full list of companies and where they stand in environmental efforts this year.
Google took the top spot this year based on strong efforts both in sourcing renewable energy to power their operations and in political advocacy within their industry. Google, Cisco and Dell all use about 20 percent renewable energy globally, which placed them high in the overall rankings and made them the leaders in the energy impact category.
Softbank, a Japanese company new to the rankings, received the highest score for political advocacy for its leadership in fighting for more renewable energy after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Fujitsu, Ericsson and Cisco lead the pack in climate solutions for their detailed reporting of how their technologies are reducing carbon emissions.
The Finger Wagging
It wouldn't be a Greenpeace report if it didn't also hold some strong criticisms. The organization, while impressed with some of the gains made in renewable energy use and reporting, is still very concerned about the growing energy demand by the IT sector, especially with growing telecom infrastructure and ever-bigger data centers to power cloud operations. While some companies stand out in using renewable energy and energy-efficient solutions, the organization says most companies are not making significant enough moves to clean up their own operations or promote the cleaning up of the sector as a whole.
I'm sure you're noticing a couple of major omissions from this list -- Apple and Facebook. Greenpeace chose not to include Apple because it "has not demonstrated leadership or elected to pursue market opportunities to drive IT energy solutions that many of its competitors have, despite record profits and large cash reserves." Facebook was not included for similar reasons, but the organization says they will be added next year due to the recent announcement that they're working toward renewable energy goals and are partnering with Opower to develop a platform that allows Facebook users to compare their energy usage and learn about how to make reductions.
Oracle fell to the bottom of this year's rankings for its failure to disclose its energy use whether from renewable or fossil fuel sources.
Encouraging Companies to Do Better
Greenpeace's rankings are not perfect, but the list does give technology consumers a better idea of what these IT companies are really doing as opposed to what they say they're doing to reduce their environmental impact. This puts power in the hands of consumers to make purchases from or support companies that are doing their part. Within the industry, these rankings can help spur some competition to be more environmentally responsible and it's always good for large companies to know that someone is watching their actions and calling them out when they're not up to par. In this case, that "someone" is Greenpeace.
You can read the full report on the IT industry and see all of the individual rankings here.