Dell released its latest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report in Q3 2012. The report sets out ambitious targets for the company's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy use and other resource efficiencies. Dell describes how innovative approaches to datacenter design and operation will help it and its customers provide more energy- and resource-efficient cloud services. These initiatives include certifying IT equipment to work at higher temperatures – eliminating the need for energy-intensive mechanical chillers – and increasing use of modular datacenter designs (reducing time to market and capital costs). But the report also describes how Dell's overall energy use and GHG emissions have increased during the past three years. Dell will need to continue to innovate around energy-efficient IT and facilities, as well as increase its use of renewable energy to achieve the targets it has set itself.
The 451 Take
Growing profits while keeping energy use and carbon emissions in check is a Sisyphean task, especially for an energy-intensive, high-tech business. Dell's latest CSR report shows the company has made some progress – carbon emissions per dollar earned are down over the past three years. However, as the company transforms itself into a business that provides services rather than just products, it will continue to build more energy and carbon-intensive infrastructure, including datacenters. Innovative datacenter technologies (such as fresh-air cooling and modularity) should help those facilities operate relatively efficiently. But, as Greenpeace and others advise, the type of energy used also matters. Such considerations will play an increasing part in not only how datacenters are built but also where they are built.
Dell positions itself as one of the leaders and pioneers of eco-efficient IT. Its latest CSR report released in Q3 2012 reinforces that view. The report outlines a wide range of resource-efficiency measures spanning its energy use, products and packaging, and supply chain, as well as Dell's internal carbon-reduction targets.