Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Is Google Greener than Microsoft?

Or is Microsoft greener than Google? Hard to say, as both companies have significant ranges of green activities going on in Seattle and Silicon Valley. CNet compares the two, and they both look pretty good:
Being portals and search engines, the companies are likely among the worst energy users because of the cooling and energy their data centers need to operate. When asked, company representatives did not say what, if anything, the data centers are doing to improve efficiency and reduce energy.

No doubt, Google and Microsoft, two of the top Internet sites in the world, use massive amounts of electricity to power and cool their data centers. But outside of the electricity that makes the businesses run, they are among the leading adopters of so-called green policies in corporate America.

Subsidies for buying Priuses? Check. Solar panels? Check. Hormone-free chicken in the corporate cafeteria? Check. Between them, they're doing a variety of things to try to make the Sierra Club, organic farmers and Al Gore proud.

"Any organization that looks at a way to become more efficient and reduce its energy consumption and emissions and makes facilities more human friendly and less toxic and more resource-conscious from the standpoint of sustainability is taking positive steps toward living in the environment in a more compatible way," said Stan Van Velsor, global warming program coordinator for environmental group Sierra Club's Loma Prieta Chapter office in Palo Alto, Calif.

What impresses me in both cases is the variety of green practices: green building, renewable energy use, organic and local foods, composting and recycling... Each seems to recognize that "green" doesn't just mean putting a recycling bin in the break room, but involves looking at the whole environment, and how that environment affects the people working in it. No doubt these companies are using lots of electricity, but if more American companies followed the lead of these two technological giants, we'd be considerably better off environmentally... and all of those companies would likely have much happier employees. Sounds like goals worth investing in, don't you think?

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