Greenpeace strikes fear in Uptime Symposium, continues No Coal Data Center efforts

I was talking to a friend who was at Uptime Symposium and he asked if  I heard that Greenpeace was there and Greenpeace asked Mike Manos a question in his CO2K presentation.  The fear in the crowd reached levels not typical as they knew they knew Greenpeace has target data centers as the IT polluters like the way Greenpeace has targeted Facebook, and no one knew Greenpeace was attending.  No sane data center event is going to promote that Greenpeace will be there.  See below for Greenpeace's latest move versus Dell.


He commented that the Greenpeace question to Mike was a softball question.  I told him of course, Mike is out there discussing issues Greenpeace supports.  They are not going to attack Mike.

Another friend send me a link to the Greenpeace blog post based on Uptime attendance.

Mike was safe.

At the Uptime Institute Symposium last week, speakers discussed the economic impacts that a “carbon tax” or carbon regulation could have on data center operators. Mike Manos of Nokia, pointing to the U.K.’s existing carbon legislation, indicated that the IT sector is ill-equipped to deal with inevitable penalties that will be associated with a heavy reliance on coal when U.S. climate legislation passes.

“Carbon emissions differ for a facility in Washington State and a facility in West Virginia,” said Manos. “Where your data centers are located today is an important criteria.”

I bet the Greenpeace person was looking for Facebook as the "we want Facebook to use 100% renewable energy" is now up to 450,000 users.  Facebook wasn't presenting so Greenpeace reports on eBay.

Unfortunately, a strategy that is still being employed by many IT companies to keep the overhead down is to locate data centers in places where “cheap” coal-fired electricity is available. In January, for example, Facebook commissioned a new data center in Oregon and entered a power service agreement with a utility called PacificCorp, which gets most of its electricity from coal-fired power stations. Just this week, eBay unveiled its new flagship data center, located in South Jordan, Utah, a state that derives 81% of its electricity from coal.

You can tell the Greenpeace reporter was in the audience listening to the presentations.

The Topaz data center, as the new hosting facility for eBay’s Marketplace and is called, is a US$287 million facility with top-of-the-line energy efficiency features, which help to make Topaz 50% less expensive for eBay to operate and 30% more efficient than any of the other data centers it uses. And eBay is very proud of its energy and cost savings accomplishment (as evidenced by the break dancers that performed at the launch party). But, is a diet on which you eat 30% less per meal, but eat MANY more meals than you previously did, AND exclusively live on Twinkies, ultimately going to save you from an untimely and serious health problem?

Who is next?  What is the next data center event Greenpeace will be in the audience?  American Express in North Carolina?

American Express to Build in North Carolina

May 20th, 2010 : Rich Miller

Local economic development officials in North Carolina are confirming that American Express will build a large data center in Guilford County. The financial services company plans to build a $400 million center that would employ up to 150 people and open sometime in 2012, according to the Greensboro News-Record.

I am not worried about Greenpeace as when I am speaking at a data center conference I am in sessions like this. 

Panel: The Greening of the Data Center – Opportunities in Renewable Energy
Understanding the True Value of Renewables: Energy Efficiency, Cost, Redundancy, Availability & Security of Supply
Dave Ohara, President - GreenM3
Paul Harris, Vice President & General Manager - NetRiver International
Tom Schmall, Director of Project Development, Solar and other Renewables - Mortenson Construction

I was talking to another experienced data center engineer and he mentioned how the same stuff gets presented over and over at conferences like Uptime. 

Greenpeace attending data center conferences may drive some of the biggest changes as presenters know Greenpeace is in the audience.

Are you ready for a question from Greenpeace in the audience?

And, you thought being asked a question from media was bad.  Greenpeace has an agenda, and they are looking for the high carbon data centers. 

How about this for a possible change?  The customers who have high carbon data centers no longer will give permission for case studies and public presentations.  The data centers vendors are frustrated and desperate to get reference customers.  The few willing to give permission are those customers who have a Low Carbon data center site, so more and more the end users hear about low carbon data centers and how data centers fit well in a corporate sustainability and environmental strategy. 

Ericsson is one company Greenpeace held up in its blog post.

Some IT companies are starting to get it.  An Ericsson white paper, “Minimizing Carbon Intensity in Telecom Networks Using TCO (Total Cost of Operation) Techniques,” demonstrates the company’s methodology (which gets it second-place ranking on the Cool IT Leaderboard) for understanding both the cost and environmental impacts of its operations, recognizing that the absolute amount of energy consumed by telecom networks is growing, along with carbon emissions, which must be managed. The same is true for cloud computing and the infrastructure that runs it.

And, Greenpeace feels good driving change and keeps going.  Sounds scary doesn't it?