Greenpeace: Major cloud vendors aren’t environmentally friendly

Bad news for organizations turning to cloud computing as part of a broader initiative to “go green”: Many of the most popular cloud providers are also the least environmentally friendly, according to a new report. 

Apple and Amazon both have lousy environmental records, according to a recent report from Greenpeace.

The organization looked at several major cloud providers and gave them grades in four categories: energy transparency, infrastructure siting, energy efficiency and green house gas mitigation, and renewables and advocacy. The report also looked at what kinds of energy are used to power the providers’ data centers.

Amazon was graded the worst of all the providers studied, getting a D in energy efficiency and GHG mitigation, and Fs in the other three categories. Apple was given an F in infrastructure siting and Ds in the other areas.

Compared to the other major cloud providers, Google scored well, receiving an A, two Bs and a C, while getting nearly 40% of its energy from clean sources.

Overall, cloud vendors have a huge impact on the environment, Greenpeace says, pointing out that if the Cloud were a country, it would have the fifth-largest electricity demand in the world. Therefore, a company’s choice of vendor can have a big effect on its overall environmental footprint.

Both Apple and Amazon dispute the numbers Greenpeace cited and Apple is touting the energy efficiency of its new data facility in North Carolina.

In many cases, using even a less environmentally friendly cloud service probably has a positive impact compared to a company running its own data center, because those providers’ size allows them to run more efficiently. However, many businesses may want to investigate how green potential cloud computing service providers are — especially if the company has policies about partnering with environmentally friendly organizations.

To learn more, download Greenpeace’s report.

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