After reading The New York Times expose about the incredible amounts of energy wasted in the data centers of “environmentally friendly” Internet juggernauts like Facebook and Google, we have to admit we’re a little surprised to learn that tech brands dominate Newsweek’s list of the “greenest” companies in America year after year.
This year, in fact, IBM and Hewlett-Packard retained the top two spots, followed by Sprint Nextel and Dell. We had to check our calendars: Is it 2012 or 1997?
How did IBM achieve its somewhat enviable position atop the green heap? We won’t get into Newsweek’s extensive methodology, but the report notes two particular projects: The Smarter Planet initiative helps IBM clients analyze their consumption of resources in order to make for more environmentally efficient businesses, but we’re more interested in the company’s Zurich Research Laboratory.
In 2008, the Swiss techies pioneered a “zero carbon emission data center” that works by redirecting the massive amounts of waste heat generated by all those buzzing hard drives and using it to regulate the temperatures of buildings and create a “municipal heating network”. Most importantly, the system uses the heat to more efficiently cool the chips themselves–so IBM truly recycles its own energy.
OK, that’s pretty cool.