- Category: Low-Carbon Biz
02 Aug 2012
- Published on Thursday, 02 August 2012 10:08
- Hits (1936)
Facebook shared the breakdown of its carbon footprint, energy mix and energy use in the previous year today, saying that it believes in the “power of openness.”
Greenhouse gas emissions from the social network giant’s data centers, office space, employee commuting, employee air travel, data center construction and server transportation totaled about 285,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2011.
Overall energy consumption from their office space, data centers and other facilities came to approximately 532 million kilowatt hours. Of the energy used by Facebook, most still came from coal with 27 percent, but renewables were not far behind, making up 23 percent.
The rest of Facebook’s energy mix came out as 17 percent natural gas, 13 percent nuclear and 20 percent uncategorized or energy that is purchased by utilities on the spot market and can be any or all of the mentioned categories.
“In the short-term, reducing our impact and significantly altering our energy mix will be challenging. The reality is that as a fast-growing company our carbon footprint and energy mix may get worse before they get better,” said a Facebook statement.
Facebook seeks to achieve an at least 25 percent mark for the renewable sources share in its energy mix by 2015.
The company aims to continue to introduce more renewables into the mix that powers their data centers by including a preference for sites that have access to renewable sources, working with environmental groups to advocate for renewables, and adopting a renewable energy component to every new data center that they will build in the future.
Aside from revealing their own carbon footprint, the Facebook footprint sharing post also revealed to its user their own carbon footprint. The total annual carbon footprint per monthly active Facebook user was placed at 269 grams.
In other words, in 2011, one person using Facebook emitted roughly the same amount of carbon one medium latte or three large bananas or a couple glasses of wine.
Facebook, as a widely-used social networking site with over 950 million users, feels that it has a unique and huge opportunity to help address climate change by engaging this large number of people.
In a joint effort with environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council and energy efficiency platform Opower, Facebook provides an online application for its users to monitor their energy usage, while giving them energy-saving tips.
“Check out the app. As Facebook seeks to track and manage our own energy use, we want to make it easy for the people who use Facebook to do the same.”
Greenpeace ‘likes’ Facebook’s transparency
Environment activist Greenpeace likes Facebook’s willingness to disclose its carbon footprint figures.
“Facebook has shown it is serious about its push to Unfriend Coal. The company wants the world – including all of you who helped change Facebook – to follow its progress.”
Greenpeace and Facebook have agreed to cooperate to encourage other businesses to turn to clean and renewable energy through the launch of “Unfriend Coal” campaign in 2011.
“Unfortunately, the transparency Facebook exhibited today is still rare among companies who are racing to build our online world, where some of the largest companies behind the cloud, such as Amazon, still refuse to disclose any information about their energy use and mix,” said Greenpeace.
The activist group noted that the company’s policy to put priority on clean energy for its new data centers will help meet and even exceed its 25 percent renewable energy target.
They hope that Facebook’s initiative will set an example and encourage more businesses to do the same, saying that green transparency is a critical step to ensure that the growing energy demand of cloud computing is powered by clean sources. – C. Dominguez