Cisco sets major greenhouse target

Networking solutions giant Cisco is seeking to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its worldwide operations by 25 percent by 2012.

“To minimize our operational impact on the environment, we are curbing our company’s GHG emissions and leveraging on networking technology to better manage environmental concerns,” says Cisco’s chairman and CEO John Chambers.

Chambers believes that consequently, the company can “significantly alter” its greenhouse gas footprint and help customers meet sustainability goals.

In 2007, Cisco’s gross GHG footprint was 832,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), which includes emissions from Cisco’s globally owned and leased facilities, vehicles and airline travel.

Cisco seeks to slash this figure to 543,000 tons of CO2e by 2012.

‘Green’ collaboration

Cisco is a member of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Leaders program, involving collaboration between industry participants and the American government to develop comprehensive climate change strategies.

Besides EPA, Cisco has also partnered with other parties like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and sustainability consulting firm Domani to assess its global GHG footprint, validate measurements and establish ambitious, realistic goals.

A U.S. nonprofit organization, EDF seeks to create innovative, equitable and cost-effective solutions to society’s most urgent environmental problems.

Cutting energy usage
br>Cisco will take several ‘green’ steps in its labs and data centers, which account for a major portion of corporate energy consumption. These include taking detailed measurements of energy flows, having more efficient lab equipment and using the ‘virtual network’ for data storage.

Other steps include adding ‘smart’ power-distribution units that automatically shut down unused machines, and upgrading building mechanical and electrical systems.

Cisco is also piloting a software solution in the US to model the impact of various factors on carbon footprint, waste reduction targets and other goals. The tool is expected to forecast how rising energy costs will affect operations and expenditures, and model how some practices can cut energy use.

Reducing travel

Cisco recognizes the need to lessen business travel, which accounts for 27 percent of the company’s GHG footprint. In response, the company will step up use of collaboration technologies like Cisco TelePresence and the Cisco WebEx suite of tools.

The company also claims that it has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from air travel by at least 10 percent per employee, in line with its participation in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

Launched by former US president Bill Clinton in 2005, CGI is a ‘catalyst for action’ program, bringing together political and business leaders worldwide to address some of the earth’s most pressing issues.

Sharing best practices

As Cisco uses technology to reduce its own GHG emissions, it will create IP-enabled best practices and solutions to share with customers. To help customers manage energy-consumption challenges in the data center, the company has beta launched a portal called the Efficiency Assurance Program (EAP).

Cisco claims that the EAP will help its customers determine power cost, energy utilization rate and carbon dioxide emissions related to their IT operations. Consequently, customers may establish efficiency benchmarks across facilities and data center infrastructures.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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