The latest installment in big technology companies announcing environmentally friendly operations plans took place Wednesday at the Google Blog. As part of their progression to carbon neutrality, they have calculated "their own global carbon footprint, purchased high-quality carbon offsets," and worked with third party organization Winrock International to verify their measurements. Google is not alone: Microsoft announced plans to reduce emissions by thirty percent by 2012. Dell claimed carbon neutral status in August 2008, and has invested $3 billion in green energy annually.
But Google and the others are measuring with their own set of parameters. That is what makes the collaboration with Winrock helpful - establishing meaningful standards so that anyone can see where the progress is happening. Are the measures currently being taken enough? For instance, will the Mountain View Google campus really save energy by using goats to keep its lawn short? (Yes.)
Seeing claims from the above companies and similar ones from Hewlett-Packard and IBM makes for a hopeful outlook, but does not mean too much on its own. As CNet said Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency has made available their Climate Leaders list, which provides a list made up of each company and their greenhouse gas goal. Unfortunately, the GHG Goal is not too specific, often with the vague "Greenhouse gas reduction goal is under development" message.
So where is the corporate version of Good Guide? CNet suggests Stonyfield Farm's Climate Counts, a nonprofit watch organization with tech and software companies and a traffic light rating system. On the green list: IBM, Canon, Toshiba, Sony, HP, Motorola, Hitachi, Samsung, Siemens, and Google for good environmental records.
Microsoft, Yahoo, Dell, and Nokia rated yellow, so they could use some work. And who is on the "red" list? Amazon.com, Apple, and eBay get the following label: "This company is not yet taking meaningful action on climate change."