Companies looking to address their data-heavy operations can join these top tech names as signatories to the Corporate Colocation and Cloud Buyers’ Principles, demonstrating support for renewable energy and sustainable practices at data centers.

We are entering an era of uncertainty regarding the U.S. government’s climate policy intentions, and, in response, the call for business action on clean energy continues to grow.

Four years ago, BSR founded the Future of Internet Power, a collaborative initiative of influential companies with a mission to power the internet with 100 percent renewable energy. While future federal energy policy remains an unknown, our coalition remains committed to maximizing the use of renewables in the energy-intensive infrastructure that powers every aspect of our digital lives: data centers.

In 2014, data centers accounted for nearly 2 percent of electricity use in the United States. The growing demand for data-center services is no longer confined to just the technology sector, as more businesses, such as those in the financial services, healthcare, or e-commerce sectors, are turning to cloud-based services and contracting with data-center providers to co-locate their data storage needs. These massive facilities, known as colocation data centers (aka “colos”), can house hundreds or even thousands of customers, each with its own energy demands and preferred equipment.

Colos, therefore, pose both a challenge and a potential solution to corporate climate leadership: While it may seem difficult for a single company to address its digital carbon footprint when its operations are confined within a multi-customer facility, colos also mean that companies can harness the power of partnership with their provider and collaboration with fellow customers. For instance, last year, 19 customers sent a joint letter to Amazon Web Services, requesting increased transparency on the cloud provider’s environmental efforts. Since then, Amazon has announced plans to buy power from a wind farm to support data centers in North Carolina.

Similarly, companies can join fellow colo customers in publicly supporting sustainable practices at data centers by becoming signatories to the Corporate Colocation and Cloud Buyers’ Principles. The Future of Internet Power developed the principles earlier this summer, and we proudly announced the founding signatories at VERGE in September: Adobe, Akamai Technologies, Autodesk, CA Technologies, eBay, Etsy, Facebook, HPE, LinkedIn, Salesforce, and Workday.

The principles are designed to be an easy first step for companies that want to address their data-center-specific carbon footprint—there’s no fee to sign and it’s non-binding. More importantly, the principles present an opportunity for greater impact because they amplify a collective customer voice advocating for environmentally sustainable practices. This can be profoundly influential in accelerating the transition to clean energy sources for colos.

Key players in the data center industry have already taken note—colo providers Aligned Energy, Equinix, Green Mountain, Infomart, and Switch have all expressed their support for this effort and are open to working with their customers on the six criteria that make up the principles. Many data center service providers also have ambitious 100 percent renewable energy goals and are active in various initiatives aimed at increasing the adoption of renewables, such as the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), of which BSR is a founding partner.

As companies explore how to demonstrate climate leadership, we invite them to look beyond their brick-and-mortar operations to their digital footprint. Take this first step with us, and help create a greener cloud.  

BSR Confernce 2017: How Business Leads, learn more