Opportunity through action: VMwareWe Mean Business
With an estimated 10% of the world’s total electricity generation going towards powering our IT infrastructure, we need to find smarter ways to meet our digital demands. And California-headquartered VMware is attempting to lead the way by providing cloud infrastructure that enables businesses to reduce their energy costs and consumption.
According to CDP, cloud computing can be a way to transition to a lower carbon business model. VMware pioneered the development of server virtualization – whereby multiple servers are in effect created by just one physical server machine. “Through virtualization, the total energy required to support a given service is reduced – often dramatically – which results in lower carbon emissions”, explains Nicola Acutt, VP of Sustainability Strategy, VMware. “For example, every server virtualized results in a reduction of approximately four tons of CO2 per year – and that’s based on conservative consolidation ratios, by the way.”
Delivering energy efficient solutions has, therefore, always been central to the company’s products and services. However, its leadership team made the decision in 2015 to take this a step further by making public climate commitments. “Developing climate commitment targets has been a significant step for us”, says Acutt. “While VMware has initiated many progressive and forward thinking sustainability initiatives over the years, we are integrating efforts across our product groups to our operations and real estate goals… In 2015 we committed to our first formal emissions reduction target and the establishment of a technical sustainability product council.”
This includes VMware 2020, a sustainability roadmap inspired by the concept of doing business in a net positive way — “to put back more into society, the environment and the global economy than we take”, explains Acutt. Specifically, this includes a commitment to setting science based targets; a 10% reduction of Scope 2 market-based emissions by 2020; and 100% renewable energy by 2020.
“While we’ve only recently formalized climate commitments, one example of how we are looking at changing the way we do business to achieve our goals is through the implementation of a carbon fee. We believe that an internal carbon fee would be a great signal to our people that indicates not only accountability and promotes education but inspires ingenuity”, informs Acutt. “This is on our roadmap and we are exploring a plan internally to start a pilot in the near future.”
“We believe that practicing sustainability is good business, and good business means mitigating risk. We are now taking steps to address our supply chain and develop criteria that ensures that each of our suppliers are meeting our sustainability standards.”
A culture of sustainability has also helped the business, which has recently become part of the Dell Technologies family of businesses, to boost its creativity and innovation. “We have found that whenever we assess a business or operations process from a sustainability lens, we gain insights and opportunities to improve the process”, says Acutt. “We like to challenge the status quo and look for and forward to opportunities to do so. Last year, in the midst of a 5 year drought in California we achieved a 35% reduction of water use on our Palo Alto headquarters campus and our community saved over 1 million gallons of water at their homes.” This included encouraging employees to sign up on the WaterGenius app, an online “gamification” platform for Californian residents that tracks an individual’s progress toward water-saving goals and awards points accordingly. In total, VMware saved approximately 13 million gallons across its facilities last year.
“One of our top priorities is bridging home and work by providing opportunities for all of our people to make sustainable choices”, says Acutt. It is, she believes, a natural extension of what the company is trying to achieve commercially. “Climate change mitigation and adaptation has influenced – and informs – our strategy to double down on our efforts to enable energy efficiency in the IT sector. We see the role of IT as an increasingly important element in any company’s approach to addressing climate change challenges.