Intel, Being 'Green' and Environmental Impact

I've been enjoying the posts by Dave Stangis over on the CSR@Intel blog. In particular, I really resonated with his post "What Exactly Is the Social Responsibility of Global Corporations?", and "The color of money....maybe it's not so tough to be green.". Check out the blog if you haven't, its another good place to understand what's going on as big companies, and in particular, big tech companies like Sun and Intel reason through the Eco and CSR issues.

One place I'd like to differ with Dave is on his use of the word 'green'. Is 'green' a state of mind, good intentions, or is it a result of actions? Dave says that Intel has been green for years, but that statement only makes sense if you use the first two definitions. Intel's carbon footprint is at the end of this article, and its not small. (Kudos to them for being one of the early reporters through the Carbon Disclosure Project, ours is submitted and will show up when the publish the CDP5 report.)

Maybe we're being too conservative, but at Sun we've decided to not use the word 'green' when referring to ourselves. We're not green. Our products and operations use lots of energy (255,000 tons of CO2 from our US operations, lots more from our products), we ship lots of lead in our products (solder), etc etc. We are, however, making big improvements throughout the company, so I will say we're 'greener', but 'green'? No way, not yet.

Speaking of big tech companies, the article above noted that Google won't disclose their CO2 footprint. So lets guess! After polling lots of people (no insider knowledge among them), the consensus is that Google's datacenters are in the 500MW to 1GW range. Using the US average for CO2 emissions from electricity, that would put them in the 3M to 6M tons/year range. That puts it in the range of Intel and 25% to 50% of GE, who's 13 times bigger in revenue. Interesting...


Good points DD. I think we are all clearly on the upward slant of a logarithmic curve in terms of green and energy. Perhaps I've been in this environmental space for too long, but I was impressed with some of the disclosures and design for the environment work going on at Intel when I joined back in the 90s. Part of our challenge has been keeping the pressure on for extended periods of time over the decades. I've always tried to used the disclosure approach to push performance in the past. Today the external environment is much more a driver to environmental improvements than in the past. Keep up the good work!

Posted by Dave on August 03, 2007 at 05:45 AM EDT #

Re your comment on Google's carbon footprint. How about Carbon Neutral by the end of 2007? (I can't believe that the footprint isn't public somewhere; how can it be verified by the Environmental Resources Trust if it isn't public in some sense), but in any case, what amount we do product is being offset. I think you seriously underestimate the amount of power we buy from renewable sources. Can Sun say something similar? How soon will Sun get to carbon neutral?

Posted by Robin on August 03, 2007 at 06:59 PM EDT #

A couple of responses to Robin: 1) Google has refused to disclose their CO2 footprint publicly on numerous occasions. Hence my guess (and it is only a guess). 2) I commend Google's purchase of renewable energy, though I don't know how much they buy. According to the website (, it's only a percent or two, but it could be more and not noted there. Sun is purchasing some renewable and is working on a number of solar and other projects that we'll talk more about as they are farther along. 3) Carbon neutrality is achieved by paying others who claim they are reducing the world's CO2 in a comparable amount. Without transparency on how Google is offseting their power use its hard to comment on the value of their offsetting efforts. Given the number of projects we are pursuing internally to lower our real energy usage, we have elected to put our $$ into those projects instead of purchasing offsets.

Posted by David Douglas on August 07, 2007 at 07:03 PM EDT #

Dear Doug-

I am contacting you in regard to my interest in Sun’s Project Black Box. I was the creator of the first commercial data-center-in-a-box.

A few years ago I was Senior Vice President of Business Development for US Data Port, a San Jose based data center developer. At that time I was responsible for the creation of IT & Telecom infrastructure for campus-scale data centers as well as a Black Box-related hot/warm site mobile-transportable data center-in-a-box we called the Rapid Deployment Data Center or RDDC. The RDDC was based on an ISO container and I secured a provisional patent for the design, engineering and operating concept.

I partnered with 3 other founders and built a business centered on the creation of purpose-built technology facilities providing critically reliable power, HVAC, site security and redundant-sourced access to IT and telecommunication assets. We focused the business on multi-national service providers and financial institutions requiring six-sigma operation, and disaster recovery capabilities.

Due to the 2003 downturn of the global telecommunications industry and the inability to secure additional investment, we shut the business down.

Over the past few years I have attempted to restart the RDDC business based on favorable market conditions but continue to encounter investment challenges. In addition, during that time I have watched the successful development and deployment of Black Box.

I’d like an opportunity to speak to you directly about Black Box and explore the possibility of getting involved in the project.

My activities involving the RDDC were primarily the markets in China, India and Eastern Europe. I was successful in securing development agreements with several service providers and government agencies in each of these markets but as noted earlier, could not go through with the development. I believe these and other opportunities for a mobile/transportable and re-purposable data center platform continues to exist.

Would you kindly afford me the opportunity to discuss this interest with you and your colleagues? Please contact me at your convenience.

Warm regards,

Posted by Lewis E. Shadle on August 22, 2007 at 10:49 AM EDT #

Lewis - I don't have your email or other contact info. Please write me directly at david dot douglas at sun dot com.

Thx - dd

Posted by David Douglas on August 22, 2007 at 05:12 PM EDT #

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