According to The Guardian, Greenpeace has named Apple the "least green" Internet company, largely because of a heavy reliance on coal to run its data centers. Released Thursday, "How Dirty Is Your Data?" looks at the energy choices made by 10 different tech brands whose data centers house ever-growing amounts of digital data. Yahoo came out on top, with a clean energy index of 55.9 percent and dependence on coal at only 18 percent.
By contrast, Apple's clean energy index is only 6.7 percent with a 54.5 percent dependence on coal. The disparity is largely due to the company's recent investment in a new facility in North Carolina that will be powered with 62 percent coal energy and 32 percent nuclear energy. The data center will triple Apple's electricity consumption, The Guardian says, to the equivalent of the demand from 80,000 homes in the U.S.
In the report, Greenpeace IT policy analyst Gary Cook notes that though IT innovations like cloud computing are changing the way businesses (and consumers) operate, the industry as a whole has not committed to clean energy. Notwithstanding how much the companies therein focus on increasing energy efficiency, then, they cannot truly call themselves "green." He also notes that data center clusters are beginning to appear in the Midwest, "where cheap and dirty coal-powered electricity is abundant."
For purposes of this report, Greenpeace looked at 10 of the top cloud-computing innovators. But that doesn't mean the rest of us should necessarily get a pass. Would your company's energy choices withstand scrutiny in this age where "green" is the new gold standard?