The Green Data Center Battle, setting the standards

Many think the green data center topic is not important and have moved on to other issues, but consider this article from the Harvard Business Review.

Winning in the Green Frenzy

by Gregory Unruh and Richard Ettenson

Don’t let your competitors control what “sustainable” means in your industry.

Right now somebody, somewhere, is defining what sustainability means for your industry, business, and products. Almost everywhere you look—textiles, communications, agriculture, autos, high tech—green competition is shifting from a race to launch ecofriendly products to a battle over what constitutes a green product in the first place. The definition can vary from one industry, business, or product class to the next. But whatever your business, if you’re not engaged in the debate and in shaping the rules, you risk being assessed against sustainability standards you can’t meet. Worse, you may be left behind by a shrewd competitor that has strategically positioned itself as a certified paragon of the new green ideal.

HBR points to the coffee industry as an example of the battle.

Producing sustainability standards is a multiplayer melee we call the green frenzy, because it is like a feeding frenzy in the wild—a tooth-and-claw competition among a growing pack of stakeholders including environmental activists, think tanks, bloggers, industry associations, consultants, and your rivals, all clamoring to establish and impose their own green standards.

In the coffee industry, for example, more than a dozen standards currently compete, affecting everything from pesticide use to workers’ housing to bird friendliness. (Just one of these, the Rainforest Alliance sustainable agriculture certification for coffee production, has some 100 criteria.) Each of the various standards has a constituency working to define the benchmarks for “sustainable coffee.” Some are backed by nonprofits such as the Audubon Society and TransFair, others by companies such as Starbucks and Nestlé.

Imagine Greenpeace being one of the most vocal groups on what green data center standards should be.