In April, Workday announced our goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2021 and reaffirmed our ongoing commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy. Just today, it was announced Workday has joined RE100, a group of influential global businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. This brings the total number of committed companies to 65, demonstrating the momentum to usher in more sustainable approaches to energy production and consumption.
Corporate sustainability—and taking responsibility for our impact on the environment— is incredibly important to us at Workday. Erik Hansen, senior sustainability manager, is on my team and leads Workday’s efforts in this area. Read on to learn how we think about our role in addressing climate change.
Why have we made these commitments, Erik?
Climate change is a critical issue that affects all of us. We are really encouraged that companies around the world have embraced the need to transition to a low-carbon economy following the COP 21 agreement in Paris late last year. We recognize that we have a part to play to protect our planet from the worst effects of climate change.
Why is it important for Workday and other global technology companies to aim for 100% renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions?
Our business involves people, software, office facilities, and data centers. It requires significant computing power to deliver cloud applications to our global customers, and that requires a lot of energy. It’s important for our company, and our industry, to continuously explore how we can reduce our carbon footprint resulting from energy use.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, U.S. data center electricity usage currently accounts for about 2.4 percent of total U.S. electricity demand and is on the rise. Even though Workday’s multi-tenant cloud architecture offers a lot of resource efficiency compared to the legacy software model of on-premise systems, we recognize our data center energy use will grow as our business grows. To support our industry’s transition, renewable energy will continue to be an important element of Workday’s sustainability strategy.
Our Pleasanton development center is being built to achieve LEED Platinum certification and generate solar power for up to one-third of its electricity usage.
How will Workday achieve net-zero carbon emissions?
Our strategy focuses on the following:
Transparency around all of our efforts is very important to us, too. We have published our carbon footprint dating back to our 2010 baseline in our Global Impact Report and will continue to do so as we track our progress towards our 2021 goal.
Our multi-tenant cloud architecture already helps customers reduce business costs and carbon emissions, but we can do more.
How will Workday continue to use 100 percent renewable energy as the company grows globally?
We have been a 100 percent green power purchaser since 2008 and an EPA Green Power Partner since 2009. But we know there’s more we can do to accelerate our impact. That’s why we joined RE100, and in 2015 we signed on to the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles and became a member of the Business Renewables Center, both of which aim to help companies meet their renewable energy goals.
We’re committed to powering our global offices and data centers with renewable energy, including wind, solar, or geothermal sources, while looking for ways to increase renewable electricity on local electricity grids. For example, at our new Pleasanton development center we plan to use onsite solar energy to power up to one-third of the building’s projected daily electricity needs.
However, procuring renewable energy can be challenging at offices and data centers we lease rather than own. That’s why we are also researching strategic renewable energy investments such as virtual power purchase agreements that add clean energy to regional grids where we have operations.
Do these commitments have any impact on Workday’s customers?
Yes! The efficiency of our multi-tenant cloud architecture already helps our customers reduce business costs and carbon emissions, but these new commitments acknowledge that we plan to do more. And because our strategy to achieve these goals includes the carbon intensity of our data centers, our approach not only reduces our contribution to climate change—but by extension—our customers’ as well.