Skip to content

Cloud and the Environmental Impact

Cloud environmental impact

In a world increasingly concerned with the planet, companies are constantly looking for ways to be “greener”. Paper straws and cycle-to-work schemes are increasingly common, but what can their IT departments be doing to reduce their carbon footprint?

Research suggests that switching to cloud computing can have a large impact on your company’s carbon emissions. For a large enterprise, making the switch could save 30,000 metric tonnes of CO2 within five years, which is the equivalent to almost 6,000 cars off the road.


A large part of this is efficiency. Cloud providers just use more of their capacity. For example, the average server utilization rate for data centers located on the premises of the business is only 15%. For large-scale cloud providers have a utilization rate of approximately 65%. This allows companies to use fewer servers and therefore less energy.

Specially designed data centers are also more efficient than in-house equipment because they use optimised equipment and sophisticated cooling systems. Having data centres all in one place means they can be designed in a more efficient way than if each company had their own. Combined, increased efficiency and higher utilisation rates result in an average energy saving of 84%.

Green Energy

Cloud computing doesn’t only save energy, but it also uses better forms of it. 6 major cloud providers: Apple, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Box and Rackspace have committed to 100% renewable energy for their data centres. Microsoft have also highlighted their cloud data centres as providing an opportunity to reduce emissions through buying energy. Because they use so much energy, they can buy from renewable sources in bulk in ways that lower energy consumers cannot. Greenpeace call out AWS, Netflix and Samsung as lagging behind in this area. Hopefully increasing public pressure to be greener will soon change their minds.

Global Markets

One region severely lagging behind is Asia. Due to a combination of a lack of available renewable energy and a lack of poltical pressure, they are far less concerned than their Western counterparts. As they are rapidly expanding their global reach this will become more of a problem. Jude Lee, senior climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia says that:

“leading tech companies in the U.S. have shown that clean power can be both good for the environment and for business. East Asian companies must step up to embrace that reality as well”

The efficiency benefits of cloud computing make it a greener alternative to in-house IT infrastructure. Many cloud companies are also committed to 100% green energy, and hopefully those lagging behind will soon join them.

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *