Facebook’s carbon footprint: not as big as Google’s

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Facebook is eager to manage its carbon footprint and is sharing the efforts it’s making towards ecological sustainability by releasing the data from its green initiatives over the last year.

In the spirit of Facebook’s openness and transparency, we are sharing our carbon footprint, energy mix, and energy use for our data centers. As Facebook expands, we need more data centers to power our platform, more office facilities for our employees, and more energy for both. This growth will have an impact on our carbon footprint and our energy, which is why we remain laser focused on maximizing efficiency while we do what we can to align our business decisions with the environment.

The data, released by Facebook, shows that the social network’s annual greenhouse gas emissions were 285 000 metric tons of CO2 which is significantly less than Google’s 1.5-million tons in 2010.

The social network calculated its total energy usage from its office space, data centers and other facilities was approximately 532-million kWh and pegged the annual footprint for each monthly active user at 269 grams.

Facebook’s energy mix was 23% clean and renewable, 27% coal, 17% natural gas, 13% nuclear and 20% uncategorised (energy that’s purchased by utilities on the spot market and can include any or all of the above categories).

The social giant recognises that its carbon footprint will most likely get worse before it gets better as it will be bringing its non US data centers online in the coming years.

When we bring our Lulea, Sweden, data center online in 2014, we expect to see a steady increase in the clean and renewable sources powering our data center operations. And we’ve set a company goal to derive at least 25% of our energy mix from clean and renewable sources by 2015. We know this is going to be a stretch for us, and we’re still figuring out exactly what it will take to get there.

This move by Facebook to be transparent about its greenhouse emissions has been welcomed by environmental organisation Greenpeace, hailing it as an “important benchmark” according to a Guardian report.

“Facebook has committed to being fully renewably powered, and today’s detailed disclosure and announcement of a clean energy target shows that the company means business and wants the world to follow its progress,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace International’s senior IT analyst.

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