Why are Salesforce hiding the emissions of their cloud?

Salesforce incorrect carbon data

The lack of transparency from Cloud computing providers is something we have discussed many times on this blog – today we thought we’d highlight an example.

Salesforce dedicates a significant portion of its site to Sustainability and on “Using cloud computing to benefit our environment”. They even have nice calculators and graphs of how Green they are. This all sounds very promising, especially the part where they mention that you can “Reduce your IT emissions by 95%”, so where is the data to back up these claims? Unfortunately, the data is either inaccurate or missing altogether.

For example, Salesforce’s carbon calculator (screen shot above) tells us that if an organisation based in Europe moves its existing IT platform (with 10,000+ users) to the Salesforce cloud, it will reduce its carbon emissions by 87%.

This is highly suspect. Salesforce’s data centers are in the US (over 42% of electricity generated in the US comes from coal) and Singapore where all but 2.6% of electricity comes from petroleum and natural gas [PDF].

On the other hand, if an organisation’s on premise IT platform in Europe is based in France, it is powered roughly 80% by nuclear power which has a very low carbon footprint. If it is based in Spain, Spain generates almost 40% of its power from renewables [PDF]. Any move from there to Salesforce cloud will almost certainly lead to a significant increase in carbon emissions, not a reduction, and certainly not a reduction of 87% as Salesforce’s calculator claims above.

Salesforce incorrect carbon data

Salesforce also has a Daily Carbon Savings page. Where to start?

To begin with, the first time we took a screen shot of this page was on October 1st for slide 26 of this slide deck. The screen shot on the right was taken this morning. As you can see, the “Daily Carbon Savings” data hasn’t updated a single day in the meantime. It is now over two months out-of-date. But that’s probably just because of a glitch which is far down Salesforce’s bug list.

The bigger issue here is that Salesforce is reporting on carbon savings, not on its carbon emissions. Why? We’ve already seen (above) that their calculations around carbon savings are shaky, at best. Why are they not reporting the much more useful metric of carbon emissions? Is it because their calculations of emissions are equally shaky? Or, is it that Salesforce are ashamed of the amount of carbon they are emitting given they have sited their data centers in carbon intensive areas?

We won’t know the answer to these questions until Salesforce finally do start reporting the carbon emissions of its cloud infrastructure. In a meaningful way.

Is that likely to happen? Yes, absolutely.

When? That’s up to Salesforce. They can choose to be a leader in this space, or they can choose to continue to hide behind data obfuscation until they are forced by either regulation, or competitive pressure to publish their emissions.

If we were Salesforce, we’d be looking to lead.

Image credits Tom Raftery

I wish I were a software developer!

I was peripherally aware of Augmented Reality before attending the Mobile 2.0 conference in Barcelona a few weeks back but hadn’t really thought through its consequences/possibilities until I saw the video above by Dutch startup company Layar.

I realised that Layar’s offering was geographically limited but its potential (esp in the Green space) was enormous – how to tap it?

I mentioned Layar during a briefing with Krishna Kumar of SpaceTimeInsight a couple of weeks back in San Francisco and he immediately ‘got it’ and was very excited with the possibilities.

Then yesterday Layar co-founder Maarten Lens-Fitzgerald pinged me via Twitter to let me know that Layar has opened up its Augmented Reality platform and is giving out (a, for now, limited number of) API keys.

This means that any database with location data and a Layar api key now has the ability to create an Augmented Reality Layar! just stop and think about that for a sec.

This opens up enormous possibilities for Augmented Reality applications in the Green space. Imagine walking down the street and seeing emissions data for the companies/businesses simply by pointing your phone at them. Or pointing at machinery and seeing schematics, lifecycle emissions data, or…

A mashup of AMEE, the neutral aggregation platform which measures “the carbon footprint of everything on Earth”, with Layar would be an absolutely awesome. Or a wiki with a Green Layar UI. Or….

The possibilities are limitless!

I really wish I were a software developer right now – the applications of this technology are seriously awe inspiring!

[Disclosure] – AMEE are a GreenMonk client co.

AMEE lands funding – Green is the new black!

Where there's muck, there's brass

Photo credit nickwheeleroz

I just received news that AMEE has landed funding. We have mentioned AMEE already a ton of times on GreenMonk, but that is because they share our open-source philosophy and they are Green. In fact, AMEE CEO Gavin Starks is the one who came up with the MegaTom concept!

From the press release:

AMEE, the World’s Energy Meter, has secured substantial Series A financing from leading VC funds in the USA and UK.

AMEE is a web-based service (API) that combines measurement, calculation, profiling and transactional systems, representing emissions data from 150 countries and regions. As a neutral data aggregation platform, AMEE’s vision is to enable the measurement of the “Carbon Footprint” of everything on Earth. AMEE aims to assist with the development of energy and carbon as a global currency, assisting governments and companies that need to account for and trade internationally in CO2 emissions.

The collaboration between O’Reilly Alphatech Ventures (OATV), Union Square Ventures (USV) and The Accelerator Group (TAG) will enable AMEE to expand its reach by enhancing its data, and extend globally.

The AMEE platform is already used internationally by many organisations including; UK Government (Defra/DECC), Morgan Stanley, Google, Radiohead, Nesta, the Irish Government, the Welsh Assembly, the Energy Saving Trust, BRE, Sun Microsystems, plus numerous other IT, business services and software companies.

Gavin Starks, Founder and CEO of AMEE commented, “AMEE’s growth over the past 12 months has been quite remarkable. We are delighted to have the financial and strategic support of such experienced investors to take our business forward.

AMEE’s is driving change by increasing the accuracy and transparency of emissions and consumption in a manner that has not been achieved by any legislation, market or service to date. We have developed and demonstrated a forward-thinking and innovative business model. It is based around neutrality, scale and collaboration. This reflects the dramatic changes that will impact our societies, their financial and social systems in the years to come.

The execution of the Climate Change Act in the UK last week, combined with President Elect Obama’s forward-looking Federal Cap & Trade statements are indicators of the scale of change approaching us.”

Bryony Worthington, Head of International Policy at AMEE added, “As one of the authors of the UK Climate Change Act, I am delighted to be bringing dedicated solutions to industry and consumers. The time to act is now.”

Mark P. Jacobsen, Managing Director of O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (“OATV”), commented: “AMEE’s vision to aggregate all of the energy data in the world fits OATV’s mission to invest in stuff that matters. With the recent sea change in America’s political climate, we look forward to AMEE bringing its platform-based data service to clients in the States.”

Ablert Wenger, Partner at Union Square Ventures, commented, “We believe that emissions information is critical to better decision making by individuals and companies. We are excited that AMEE’s service helps to substantially improve the timeliness and accuracy of emissions measurement.”

Great news, congrats Gavin and team. With the slew of funding announcements in the Green space, despite the trying financial times (because of…), Green is quickly becoming the new black!