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Meghan Shipp

Living Green: Our Responsibility to the Planet

Today is Earth Day! While becoming more eco-friendly is something we should act on daily, today serves as an international reminder of our duty to protect the planet and all of those who inhabit it.

Data centers are one of the nation’s fastest-growing consumers of electricity. With the increase in applications, big data, e-commerce, and Internet traffic, the amount of electricity that data centers consume isn’t slowing down. In the United States alone, data center electricity consumption is projected to grow to 140 billion kilowatt-hours annually by 2020, cost businesses $13B, and emit close to 150 million metric tons of carbon pollution. This is enough electricity to power every household in New York City for two years, and equivalent to the annual emissions output of 34 coal-fired power plants.

We owe it to our planet to change our wasteful behaviors – small lifestyle adjustments are a cheap price to pay for the health of our environment. Here are a few ways to improve upon your own sustainability efforts:

  1. Educate yourself: We all know climate change is a problem, but most people are not aware of its severity. It’s not just causing strange weather patterns or forcing species into extinction, but wreaking havoc on human lives as well. The impact of climate change will not be equally distributed – marginalized communities will be the first ones to face its consequences. Check out Leonardo DiCaprio’s film “Before the Flood,” or the National Climate Assessment’s latest report.
  2. Cut out the excess: We often don’t think about the amount of waste we produce daily. This comes in many forms – from uneaten food, plastic bottles, to the packaging on items we buy. Here’s a list of 5 creative ways to cut down on waste from someone who lives a zero-waste lifestyle.
  3. Eat less meat: It takes a massive amount of water to produce animal products like meat and dairy – for context, the water footprint of a 6 oz steak is 674 gallons, while a salad’s footprint is 21 gallons. You can calculate your own water footprint hereIn addition to the water waste, livestock is also a major contributor to methane emissions, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.
  4. Donate: Show your appreciation for the folks dedicating their lives to environmental conservation. On the forefront of battling climate change includes organizations like The Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, and The NRDC.
  5. Support environmentally-responsible companies: Do your due diligence before you make a purchase, or decide to partner with a company. Organizations like Ben and Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Everlane are setting the bar for how businesses should think about corporate social responsibility. Or, even better – shop locally when you can!

 We must be thoughtful about where we choose to shop, who we partner with, and where we work. People want to engage with companies and colleagues that are mission-driven, and enact positive change on the planet. I’m proud to work at Turbonomic, a company whose impact on the environment is tangible – ultimately, Turbonomic is helping customers do more with less.

Consider that almost every data center in the world is dramatically overprovisioned – the average rate of server utilization is only 12-18% of capacity. And, much of the energy consumed by U.S. data centers is used to power over 12 million servers that are running idle most of the time. Unsurprisingly, the National Resource Defense Council suggests that increasing server utilization is one of the industry’s biggest energy-saving opportunities.

How can we safely increase infrastructure utilization without risking the performance of applications that are critical to running businesses? This is where Turbonomic comes into the picture. By understanding the real-time demand of applications, we provide automatable, application-aware, full-stack decisions. The result is that your environment runs in a continuously healthy state that assures performance, while driving efficiency and policy compliance. In fact, 77% of IT organizations have dramatically improved their infrastructure utilization by using Turbonomic. You can learn more about reducing energy consumption in data centers here.

With corporations contributing to climate change at exponentially higher rates than individuals, it’s critical that we are mindful of who we work with and for. A recent study found that just 100 companies are the source of 71% of industrial greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. If consumers choose to invest their dollars in environmentally conscious companies over those who are apathetic, it will signal to corporations how much social responsibility matters. People want to work for and support altruistic companies – industry leaders will strategically use their CSR initiatives as a way to attract top talent and give themselves a competitive edge.

In striving towards a renewably powered economy, both organizations and individuals must take action and invest in innovative solutions to combat climate change. As we celebrate Earth Day today, actively think about how you can take accountability for saving our environment.