Greenpeace released a report Thursday surveying technology and focusing on the "dirty data centers" of Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter. All were found to be worthy of failing grades, the report said.
In a report card on cloud computing which necessitates data centers, Greenpeace graded performance and by the smallest margin IBM received the highest grades: a C in transparency, a C in infrastructure siting and a B in mitigation strategy. Twitter received Fs in all three categories while both Apple and Facebook failed in infrastructure siting. Google failed in transparency.
All three Silicon Valley companies were also criticized for their use of North Carolina data centers, which the study points out are routinely powered by coal. All three are in the process of building or bringing the data center online.
"These mega data centers, which will draw from some of the dirtiest generation mixes in the US, highlights the sway of low-cost energy, misplaced tax incentives, and a corresponding lack of commitment to clean energy," the report said.
The infrastructure siting failing grades for Apple, Facebook and Twitter are primarily for moving data centers to North Carolina, and in Twitter's case Utah, rather than using California's cleaner energy mix. Google and Facebook also received low grades in transparency, by not being as open about energy efficiency, or in Google's case, by also not publicly acknowledging projects.
So far, only Twitter has commented publicly on the Greenpeace report, telling PCMag, ""Twitter is at the early stages of building out our infrastructure. We are striving for greater energy efficiency and environmental responsibility in how we operate as a company."
Anyone who has been to a data center, even in California, has to know that there's a way to go for many of them to be considered green. It's also easy to say that you are doing all you can for the environment in your Silicon Valley headquarters lined with solar panels, but are also farming out your data centers to coal-burning states across the country.