Director of Sustainability, AWS
Global businesses are turning to the cloud to embed sustainability into their core strategies in order to build their brand identity and help their customers make sustainable choices.
Sustainability is no longer simply an admirable attribute of a company’s profile – it is an essential part of a successful company’s strategy and identity.
Customers, suppliers and governments increasingly expect businesses of all sizes to embrace sustainability into their philosophy, protocols and policies. Organisations are increasingly turning to digital technologies like cloud services to help them achieve their goals.
A demand for data
Data, technology, IT infrastructure and people are critical to support both a digital and sustainable transformation, explains Director of Sustainability at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Christopher Wellise. As organisations – whether small firms, large enterprises, or governments – embrace digitalisation, they are “embedding sustainability into their operations, and digital services,” he says.
“Once they figure out what they can do operationally to improve sustainability for their own organisation, they begin to look across the entire value chain of their operations.”
This trend has reached an inflection point in the last two years, he adds, where customers want more data to drive sustainability decisions. Data that allows them to map out and measure their impact and take the actions needed to reduce their environmental footprint.
Embedding sustainability into strategy
Wellise, who has spent his career helping organisations to become more sustainable, says that as a cloud provider, AWS offers a range of services and tools that help its customers innovate as well as meet their sustainability goals and those of their own customers.
“We integrate sustainability into our strategy; from the way we purchase and consume energy, the way we design our architecture, the way our data centres are built, how we improve utilisation rates within our infrastructure, to the way we limit our use of energy, water and other resources,” he says.
Studies by 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, estimated that running business applications on AWS Cloud, rather than on-premises enterprise data centres in Europe, could reduce associated energy usage by nearly 80% and carbon emissions by up to 96% for many businesses when AWS purchases 100% of its energy from renewable sources.
“We have achieved this through higher server utilisation rates but also through innovation, such as our Graviton processors, serverless compute, and designing cooling systems that reduce energy and water use, and using real-time sensor data to adapt to changing weather conditions.
“Amazon is already the world’s and the UK’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy and AWS is on a path to powering its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of our original 2030 target” says Wellise.
New carbon footprint tool
Now, with the recent launch of the customer carbon footprint tool, organisations can use a dashboard to visualise their carbon footprint in relation to their usage. The data and insights it delivers allows them to make more sustainable choices and is already being used by tens of thousands of customers including Salesforce, Pinterest and Veolia.
The tool complements the six pillars of AWS’s Well-Architected Design Framework, which includes sustainability.
The Framework contains design principles, operational guidance, architectural and software patterns, allowing customers to understand their impact and adopt more efficient hardware and software offerings and reduce downstream impacts of cloud workloads.
While carbon and climate is top of everyones mind, increasingly water is becoming and important and scarce resource – so wherever possible, the company use efficient evaporative cooling technologies to keep their data centres cool. For example, this means, for more than 95% of the year, AWS uses no water to cool their data centres in Ireland. For the few hot days Ireland does see, they use a minimal amount of water to cool the air that removes heat from their servers.
“We know there is increased demand for sustainability-related services from our customers because it is important to their customers,” he says. “We are committed to building a sustainable business for our customers and the planet.”