Greenpeace: Amazon Web Services' Data Centers 'Dirty'

Amazon Web Services (AWS) scored an "F" for its commitment to renewable energy in the new Greenpeace report, "Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet." Here's a closer look at how AWS and other major cloud brands stack up in the report.

Dan Kobialka, Contributing writer

April 7, 2014

2 Min Read
Greenpeace analyst Gary Cook
Greenpeace analyst Gary Cook

Amazon Web Services (AWS) scored an “F” in a ranking of its commitment to renewable energy in a Greenpeace report released last week. The report, “Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet,” claimed AWS was one of the “dirtiest and least transparent companies” in the cloud space.

“If Amazon was motivated, you’d have a very different scenario unfolding,” Greenpeace analyst Gary Cook told Wired. “We haven’t seen a change in Amazon. Unfortunately, unlike many of those in the sector, they’ve not moved very much in the past few years.”

AWS also received low marks in other categories, including an “F” for environmental advocacy and “D” for energy efficiency. However, an AWS official said that Greenpeace “missed the mark by using false assumptions” about AWS.

“Running IT infrastructure on the AWS Cloud is inherently more energy efficient than traditional computing that depends on small, inefficient and over-provisioned data centers. With AWS, customers can reduce their overall consumption of IT resources while also improving utilization. Collectively, AWS customers are the driving force in this effort by eliminating hundreds of thousands of individual data centers worldwide, along with the associated wasted capacity and overprovisioned energy,” an AWS official told Wired.

Other report findings included:

  • Six major cloud brands (Apple, Box, Facebook, Google, Rackspace and Salesforce) have committed to a goal of powering data centers with 100 percent renewable energy.

  • Greenpeace called Google a leader “in building a renewably powered Internet” for its renewable energy investments and collaboration with utility vendors.

  • Apple was the most improved company since Greenpeace’s last report in 2012.

  • Streaming audio and video are some of the biggest drivers of data growth.

  • YouTube is the largest single source of data growth, but social networks Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter also are growing rapidly.

Responses from over 300 data centers across 19 global IT companies were included in the report. The full report is available for download here.

About the Author(s)

Dan Kobialka

Contributing writer, Penton Technology

Dan Kobialka is a contributing writer for MSPmentor and Talkin' Cloud. In the past, he has produced content for numerous print and online publications, including the Boston Business Journal, Boston Herald and Dan holds a M.A. in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Bridgewater State College (now Bridgewater State University). In his free time, Kobialka enjoys jogging, traveling, playing sports, touring breweries and watching football (Go Patriots!).  

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