Keith Patterson is a freelance writer and designer for all things green. His work promotes green technology and advancements for a better world. He currently manages a blog at EnergySavings.com.
While Sprint may be making headlines for its attempt to purchase Clearwire, many may have missed the company's sustainability announcement through Greenpeace International this past spring. In April, Sprint was recognized by Greenpeace International as a leader in the communications industry for its fight to stop climate change. The company was given the number one spot on Greenpeace's Cool IT Leaderboard for the telecommunications industry with a score of 43, while Intel and Google tied for the top spot in the IT sector with a score of 58.
So how is Sprint making a difference in the green movement? As it stands today, Sprint is the only U.S. telecom company to establish a greenhouse gas reduction goal. The company has pledged to reduce its emissions 20 percent by 2017. To satisfy this goal, Sprint has come up with three strategies: use more renewable energy, reduce energy requirements and increase energy efficiency.
The majority of Sprint's emissions (as with all telecom companies) come from its network, which represents 83.5 percent of the company's overall greenhouse gases. The process of running its wireless network requires Sprint to continually optimize data centers with numerous servers and diesel-powered backup generators as a precaution should there ever be a power failure. But from 2007-09, Sprint focused on energy-efficiency projects to reduce the system's environmental footprint. The company improved its lighting infrastructure, implemented zone-control systems and added variable-frequency drives. These changes saved Sprint a reported 6.5 percent in energy costs in 2011 alone.
Sprint has also begun to invest in renewable energy. So far, the telecom company buys 5 percent of its energy supply from clean energy sources such as solar or wind. By 2017, Sprint plans to increase that amount to 10 percent. It may not seem like much, but a tenth of the telecom giant's energy coming from clean resources can make a huge impact and set a path for other industry professionals to follow.
Aside from providing clean power, purchasing enough renewable energy could help eliminate many of the barrels of diesel fuel used to power Sprint's generators. It could also spare the atmosphere tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
And other telecom leaders may be following Sprint's lead by increasing energyefficiency. According to a 2012Pike Research study, sustainable network investments will make up more than 61 percent of telecom expenses by 2016. In total, that will represent a $194 billion market. The organization also forecasts that the carbon dixoide caused by mobile networks will decrease by 15 million tons in the next three years if the telecom industry stays on track to green its networks.
If everyone in the telecom industry made just a small change, even 5 percent, it would make a huge difference in the air quality throughout the world and help combat climate change.