Cloud computing company Salesforce has achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, more than 30 years ahead of schedule, the company announced. Salesforce achieved this in part by executing two 12-year renewable energy agreements in the last year and supporting sustainable development projects through the purchase of high-quality carbon credits, the company says.
Massive Data Centers at Tech Companies Have Significant Impact
Salesforce has recently expanded into more areas that rely on coal-fired electricity, more than doubling emissions from its data centers in a year’s time – from 52,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent in fiscal year 2015 to about 110,000 metric tons in fiscal year 2016, the company reported (via Mashable). The company’s senior director of sustainability, Patrick Flynn, said the recent expansion is exactly why the company has accelerated its efforts to reach net-zero emissions.
In 2012, Greenpeace called Salesforce the worst of the “dirty cloud” companies in a report that claimed cloud computing companies were perpetuating the use of fossil fuel; the company has improved its record since then enough to earn a “B” in Greenpeace’s 2017 “Clicking Clean” report.
Other tech giants, including Google – which achieved the top score in Greenpeace’s 2017 report – are also taking a close look at their carbon footprints, according to a recent Energy Manager Today article.
Reaching Net-Zero with a Three-Pronged Approach
Salesforce says its path to net-zero is a three-pronged approach: Avoid, Reduce, and Mitigate. The company describes some of its key activities this way:
- Avoid: The multi-tenant architecture of the Salesforce platform is 50 times more carbon and energy efficient than on-premise software, the company says. As a result, Salesforce avoided 2 million metric tons of emissions last year.
- Reduce: Ongoing projects throughout its operations, such as investing in green office spaces and improving data center efficiency, continue to drive energy savings.
- Mitigate: Last year, to make progress toward its goals of 100% renewable energy and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, Salesforce signed two virtual power purchase agreements for a combined 64 megawatts of wind power, offsetting a significant portion of its electricity consumption for years to come.
The company says it is also mitigating climate impact by supporting sustainable development projects through the purchase of carbon credits. “We achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits equal to the emissions under our operational control which we couldn’t avoid or reduce,” the company says.
Salesforce Offers Customers a ‘Carbon Neutral Cloud’
Salesforce has also purchased carbon credits equal to some of its indirect impacts such as manufacturing servers, data center operations, and the impact of its customers using Salesforce on their personal devices – this, the company says, provides customers with a carbon neutral cloud.
Salesforce will soon be moving into its new headquarters – the tallest building in San Francisco – which has attained the highest level of LEED certification, writes SFGate.com.