Sustainable Tech: 5 IT Giants Lowering Their Carbon Footprint

From slashing carbon emissions to renewable energy investments and responsible water usage, here’s what five IT leaders are doing right now to combat climate change.

Getting Greener

Tech companies are notoriously heavy users of electricity and water to power their operations, from large campuses and manufacturing plants, to data center facilities. But many of these same companies that are consuming a sizable amount of resources are stepping up their green games with commitments to help combat climate change and give back what they’ve taken.

Some of the largest IT leaders in the world, including Cisco Systems and Google, are pledging to reduce their carbon footprints by investing in sustainable tech strategies, and even helping their technology and supply chain partners do the same. The two biggest telecom companies in the U.S. – AT&T and Verizon – have also made recent investments in renewable energy sources to cut down on their own contributions of greenhouse gases.

From carbon-neutral pledges to renewable energy and responsible water usage, here’s five recent announcements from technology leaders that are working on being part of the climate change solution right now.

AT&T Intros Initiative To Reduce U.S Carbon Emissions

Telecom giant AT&T in August launched its Connected Climate initiative aimed at reducing carbon emissions in partnership with energy companies, fellow tech companies, and researchers.

The goal is for AT&T to help businesses reduce greenhouse emissions by 1 billion metric tons — 1 gigaton — by 2035. A gigaton is equal to approximately 15 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 3 percent of global energy-related emissions generated in 2020, according to the Dallas-based telecom. The initiative will push enterprise IT teams to rely more on renewable energy sources, especially as more companies move applications into the cloud.

Companies that have signed on to AT&T’s Connected Climate pledge include Microsoft, Equinix, Duke Energy, Texas A&M University System, and The University of Missouri.

Cisco To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Cisco Systems in September pledged it would reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, including its own operations, product use, and supply chain. In the meantime, the tech giant said to expect more near-term emissions-reduction targets for its most material emissions.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is also investing millions through its Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program to help its partners and end customers lower their own carbon footprints and meet sustainability goals. The CDA program is rolling out a Sustainability Partner Innovation Challenge that will challenge Cisco’s partner ecosystem to develop proofs of concept aimed at solving the sustainability issues, according to Cisco.

Equinix Posts Climate-Neutral Pledge

Data center heavyweight Equinix in June made news when it committed to becoming climate-neutral by 2030, a first for the industry. The Redwood City, Calif.-based company is relying on green bond to do it.

Equinix, which operates 230 data centers in 26 countries on five continents, has issued more than $3.7 billion in green bonds. The bonds, according to the company, will finance projects for green buildings, renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste reduction and clean transportation. Equinix has set climate targets that align with the Paris Agreement and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the company said.

Google Sets Water Usage Goals

Tech giant Google is building more data centers around the globe, but the company wants to be mindful about the water it uses to cool its facilities, especially as certain areas — like the Southwest U.S., grapple with serious droughts.

Google this month laid out plans to protect vital water resources. The strategies include using water more efficiently in its operations, partnering with communities to make watersheds healthier, and offering its technologies as tools to predict and prevent water stress.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said that by 2030, it wants to replenish 120 percent of the water it consumes in its data center operations and become “water positive.”

Verizon Prices Third Green Bond Focused On Renewable Energy Buying

Verizon Communications in September settled its third green bond offering of $1 billion to become a leading corporate buyer of renewable energy in the U.S.

The net proceeds of its third green bond are expected to be allocated entirely toward renewable energy as the company enters into more long-term virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs) which support the construction of solar and wind power facilities, according to the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based telecom giant.

Morgan Stanley is serving as one of four lead underwriters for Verizon’ most recent green bond. Verizon has also named three women- and minority-owned financial firms as lead underwriters: Loop Capital Markets, Ramirez & Co and Siebert Williams Shank.