Caveat Emptor – The Cloud is Not Green

If you are an enterprise there are a number of ways you can go about getting sustainable credibility and avoid “greenwashing” and the backlash that companies like BP have been receiving.

* Put your money where your…. – Cut back on your waste and CO2 emissions and forget the cap a trade. Real dollars spent because it is the right thing is credible and measurable.

* Support local sustainable businesses through employee programs. Have the cafeteria use produce from a local CSA. Insist on sourcing supplies from within a 50 mile radius. Its tangible, again its real and you get the benefit of improving your employee’s lives and the local economy. Who knows, maybe you can even leverage it to negotiate a lower health care premium.

These are just two ideas amongst a large variety that are immediate and have real impact. One idea I’ve seen floated around is the idea that going to a cloud technology strategy is “going green.” I’m here to tell you that’s likely not the case. And if you see brands trying to claim that, its in my opinion the tech version of polluters buying carbon credits and saying its ok.

Let’s think about it – everything is going digital and on a worldwide scale.  New device adoption is growing, and new launches like the iPad are just adding to the data growth.  This data has to live somewhere, and the energy and data center space required to manage this growth has a cost.

So organizations think “I’ll just go the cloud, reduce my footprint and electric bill and I’m green.”  Not so fast…Jason Mark does a nice job here detailing the folly of that idea, and the most startling statistic he highlights is this:  “In just 10 years, internet technologies could be eating up more than 50 percent of the electricity we now use in the United States.”

I was talking to a large enterprise prospect last week and they hold sustainability as one of the key internal programs, which is commendable and I was thrilled to see.  However, as we explored it as a possible PR strategy, we collectively realized that in order to claim sustainability as a core cultural differentiators, we had to showcase implemented programs that were measured and maintained over a period of time.  We had to be accountable, and that didn’t mean shuffling responsibility to partners or customers.

I applauded them, and I encourage other brands to hold themselves to the same standard.  Cloud Computing is an IT revolution and well worth the effort, but let’s avoid calling it green….

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Filed under Green Marketing, Green Technology, Sustainable Marketing

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