Week 3 Report: Under the weather, but catching up…

Last week was a bit rough! Had to deal with cold and sore throat that later led to a sever ear infection :((

All is good now! And I was able to catch up quickly with my internship tasks.

So, here we go again with some of interesting stuff that I have learned about.pic 1blog week 3

On June 11th, the Company I’m interning with had its annual gathering meeting (AGM)  in which all investors are invited and updated on the performance of the funds that are under management. I was in the meeting representing my Company in Saudi Arabia (a major investor in the Company I’m interning at). Thus, I had to critical and question some of investment decisions. In addition as a global sustainability student, I’ve learned that you always have to question the sustainability of a product no matter how green it looks.

As the private equity I’m interning at heavily invests in cleantech believing that technology along with sustainability are the two pillars of green economies of the future. Big data, cloud computing, collaboration and Internet of things are major focus areas for the technology growth capital. I had to ask does cloud computing actually contribute to sustainability? I was immediately answered “the cloud is bringing and can bring great efficiencies, but the challenge is to ensure that it is utilizedpic 2blog week 3 in a way that actually replaces activities of higher carbon intensity”. Then, the shift to the online music distribution was cited as an example; it can only contribute to significant carbon savings if consumers are not also burning the downloaded music into CDs;  that respond did answer my business question during the meeting, but my “Sustainabilist” curiosity was still unsatisfied… I sat with my mentor and asked more questions… he then said” those are great questions Ruby, why don’t do some research and come back to me with a high level report about what’s available on the sustainability of cloud computing”. I then realized that I’m back to my role as an intern:-I

It was quite interesting to learn about cloud computing and I thought of sharing my findings with you guys…

The Cloud Explained  

Cloud Computing Explaibned
Figure 1: The Cloud Explained (source: https://www.cdp.net/en-US/WhatWeDo/Pages/Cloud-Computing.aspx)

Facts: Cloud Computing is Green

  • There is enough convincing data confirming the massive energy efficiency gains from moving into cloud computing
  • In addition to energy, time and money savings, along with increased capacity and performance, cloud’s computing has another key green attribute of “dematerializing” the economy by reducing the number of physical materials and associated wastes

pic 3blog week 3
A greenwash for dirty laundry

  • It is of concern that “cloud computing and storage” is being used as greenwash tool; The lack of transparency and overestimated environmental benefits are amongst key critiques to the cloud industry
  • As tech giants are pushing for the transition to online distribution models, such as video streaming, on the premise that cloud computing has a less carbon footprint over traditional models of delivery, this shift may lead to much higher levels of consumption, ultimately increasing the total amount of electricity consumed and the associated pollution from electricity generation
  • While many industry leaders have adopted 100% renewable energy goals, this commitment is still lacking basic transparency in terms of reporting and still needs to be guided by investment decisions toward renewable energy and away from conventional fuel

The carbon emissions-reducing potential of cloud computing is a thrilling breakthrough, allowing companies to maximize performance, drive down costs, reduce inefficiency and minimize energy use – and therefore carbon emissions – all at the same time. Paul Dickinson, Executive Chairman Carbon Disclosure Project

Solution: Accelerating the cloud’s green transformation, the supplier responsibility…

  • The keys to a sustainable cloud are sourcing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency. In order to make cloud computing a truly sustainable option, suppliers are to locate their data centers in areas where the grid portfolio is clean
  • Major providers of cloud services are to leverage their buying power to positively influence the collocation companies’ energy source related decisions. In addition, giant data center operators need to join forces to push the agenda for policy frameworks that allow them to procure renewable energy and overcome the resistance of monopoly utilities

References and related articles:





1 Comment

  1. I love your curious, questioning mind and the research you do to answer these questions. You are certainly a sustainability student by questioning the “green-ness” of products and services.

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