Telecoms Gone Green: 5 Carriers With An Eye On The Environment

Shrinking the Telecom Carbon Footprint

From green data center design to investing in renewable energy, the telecom giants have been working hard in recent years to become more environmentally sustainable.

Large carriers have large networks, and so even larger energy requirements -- not to mention their large data center facilities, corporate locations and fleets of technicians working 24/7 to keep internet, phone, cable and cloud services up and running for business customers and consumers. All of that adds up to a very large carbon footprint.

Here are five telecom providers that are making efforts to reduce energy consumption, lower operating expenses, and even changing the way they serve customers in order to be more green.

CenturyLink Teams Up With The Department of Energy

This month, telecom giant CenturyLink revealed that it had joined the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Building Challenge, part of President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan to double American energy productivity by 2030.

The program challenges corporate and public sector leaders to save energy through commitments and investments, and CenturyLink committed to lowering its operating expenses -- as well as shrinking its carbon footprint -- across its 35 U.S. data centers. The Monroe, La.-based provider, which offers colocation, managed hosting, cloud and network services from its data centers, said it would slash its energy consumption in its facilities by 25 percent by 2023.

Verizon Wins Awards For Sustainability Focus

In 2011, Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon Enterprise Solutions employed an energy management system from data center cooling technology provider Vigilent. The result: significantly reduced energy consumption and lower carbon emissions at 24 of its data centers based in the U.S. within two days of installation. In 2012, Verizon received a Green Enterprise IT award for its energy-efficient data center design by the Uptime Institute, and in 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named Verizon an Energy Star Partner of the Year for the third consecutive year.

Verizon said it is continuing to develop energy-efficient technologies and investing in renewable energy resources to power its Fios network, the largest offender in Verizon's carbon footprint. The carrier's goal is to cut its carbon intensity in half by 2020.

Comcast Green Efforts Reach Its Employees, Customers

Cable giant Comcast has its eye on reducing energy consumption within its own business operations and a trickle-down effect for its customers.

The provider has been working on deploying solar energy technology and smart controls within its data centers to manage power and cooling requirements. Comcast completed the installation of solar array technology at its Oakland, Calif.-based data center in May, Comcast said.

Comcast's corporate headquarters in Philadelphia has been constructed with "high levels of recycled content," according to the provider. Comcast also says that the building is one of the tallest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified buildings in the U.S., and has been constructed to reduce lighting and cooling expenses. Most of the provider's consumer set-top boxes are Energy Star Qualified, and Comcast said it would like to get 100 percent of its boxes deployed on that list in the future. Comcast also operates the 10th-largest fleet of hybrid vehicles in the U.S. today, according to the provider.

AT&T's Focus On Sustainability Trickles Down To Suppliers, Customers

AT&T this month honored IT company Fujitsu with its own AT&T Supplier Sustainability Award for Fujitsu's efforts in energy savings, which in turn helped minimize AT&T's environmental impact in 2015, according to the Dallas-based carrier.

While AT&T has its own internal focus on sustainability, the carrier is also helping its customers keep an eye on their carbon footprints. In 2012, AT&T introduced Digital Life, a remote monitoring platform that will ultimately allow users to remotely and automatically adjust energy usage in their homes. The platform also serves as a smart home security system for consumers.

In 2008, AT&T joined The Green Grid, the global consortium dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centers and business computing ecosystems. The carrier since offloaded its cloud computing and managed services business unit to IBM, in 2015.

Windstream, TierPoint Focus On Energy-Efficient Data Centers

Telecommunications provider Windstream had the environment in mind when building out its data center footprint in the U.S., the company said. The carrier opened a 21,000-square-foot Nashville, Tenn., facility in 2012 built to LEED Gold standards, a framework for ensuring measurable green building design, operations and maintenance. Little Rock, Ark.-based Windstream also kept the same standards in mind for its data centers based in McLean, Va., and Little Rock, Ark.

In 2015, Windstream sold off its 14-data-center business to colocation provider TierPoint in a deal worth $575 million. In 2013, TierPoint began a partnership with energy-management provider Schneider Electric for its data center expansion strategy.