Workday has set itself a goal to achieve a net-zero carbon emission total by 2021 and is continuing to commit to use 100 percent renewable energy. This is an ambitious target and one that throws down a challenge to its competitors.
One of those is Salesforce who has a similar commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Greenpeace annual report that is due out next month and last years report showed that Apple, Facebook, Google and Yahoo were the leading companies for using green energy although only Apple achieved a 100% rating .It will be interesting to see whether they now widen the list of companies to include Workday, Equinix and other similar sized companies in the future.
How will they do it.
Salesforce is at a disadvantage to Workday in that they already have a far larger data centre footprint, most of which were built on older, less green, technology. As Workday grows they will need to ensure that they don’t follow the same path. To avoid that pitfall they are ensuring that they follow the best practice when constructing new sites.
For example, the new development centre being constructed in Pleasanton, California is aiming for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum, the highest level of LEED certification. To help achieve this Workday will be installing solar energy panels at its new development center to generate clean energy to power up to one-third of the building’s projected daily electricity needs.
While their own infrastructure is getting greener Workday also need to consider their data centre footprint. To reduce the carbon emissions in those they are continuing to invest in virtualisation technology to improve utilization and power efficiency. This will only go so far and Workday’s challenge as they grow is to decrease their carbon emissions rather than increase them. Certainly their power consumption is likely to grow, although not perhaps at the pace of Salesforce.
To ensure that this doesn’t impact their 2021 goal, Workday committed to purchasing green power in 2008 and has been an EPA Green Power Partner since 2009. Data centres eat energy and Workday is taking a broad brush approach similar to Equinix as it looks to go green. Whether they will go as far as Equinix in their quest remains to be seen as the Equinix carbon footprint is far higher. Workday talks about VPPA’s rather than PPA’s although as in Pleasanton they will consider on-site clean energy generation.
It would be useful to understand how Workday plan to cover their data centre footprint. In some countries it is easier to obtain green energy than others, but there is often a cost premium to it. Like Equinix, Workday might consider partnering with local energy providers to create wind or solar farms near any new data centres that they build.
So why do it?
More and more companies are waking up to the reality that traditional (dirty) energy sources are both finite and almost certainly harm the environment. Renewable energy is reducing in cost as more investment is being ploughed into it and it is becoming one of the questions on invitations to tenders that is growing in importance for many.
Mark Peek, co-president, Workday, commented;
“Continuing to apply innovative practices to achieve corporate sustainability is not only good for the environment, it’s good for business,”
“These commitments represent another step forward in our journey to embrace new sustainability programs and practices that embody Workday’s core values and drive our continued success.”
Industry bodies are also growing in power and Workday was an early signatory of the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles and is also a member of the Business Renewables Center. The one pledge that Workday has not yet signed up to is the American Business Act on Climate Pledge although there seems little holding them back from doing so.
Founded by the Rocky Mountain Institute whose aim is to promote the use of clean, renewable energy across the globe the Business Renewable Centre aims to help companies procure green energy. Hervé Touati, managing director, Rocky Mountain Institute, and head of its Business Renewables Center commenting on this announcement said: “Corporations are increasingly turning to renewable energy as a cost-effective means to reduce their environmental impact,”
“It’s great to see Workday make a commitment to using 100% renewable energy, which will help drive new wind and solar development in the U.S.”
This is a welcome announcement by Workday and it will be interesting to find out what other companies in the cloud business software market are doing. Few companies make such announcements with conviction. Equinix and Workday seem to be championing green energy more than others it may just be that some want to get reduce their emissions a bit before making any pronouncements.