Sprint First to Make Renewable Commitment in the Telecom Industry

June 21st, 2013 by · 9 Comments

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.


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9 Comments So Far

  • mhammett says:

    Part of their Network Vision project works towards this. New, energy efficient gear reduces the cost of energy at the site and decreases the demand on backup power sources.

  • Jon C says:

    This is interesting, but unnecessary. If I am a customer, I care about three things from my network provider: 1) Uptime, 2) Uptime and 3) Correct billing.

    How, exactly, is wind and solar helping with uptime?

    Global climate CO2 warming greenhouse gas man-made change catastrophe = Eugenics. Watch it continue to unravel as the months and years march on.

    • mhammett says:

      It doesn’t have to be wind or solar to reduce CO2. Simply reducing energy consumption reduced CO2. If they purchase their electric service from someone that produces energy from non-CO2 sources, that affects their CO2 production without actively building things at each site.

      You’d be surprised at the number of people that care about that CO2 output stuff. 😉

    • Club Flatworld says:

      Jon C apparently knows something that 97% of scientists don’t. I wonder what he thinks about vaccinating children, placing flouride in tap water, or all of that crap maligning mercury, uranium, and ozone as bad for you.

      • beetlejuice says:

        Uh oh, look out its the climate Nazis! Almost makes you lament the CarlK Level 3 Nazi days.

        What Jon probably knows is that “going green” has become a marketing campaign, not a serious scientific scrutiny – due in no small part to the heretic mark you give anyone who does not conform to your religion. It might also result in opex or capex savings (although that’s been shown to be highly dubious) that Sprint can keep rather than pass to consumers, which is a definite bonus.

        Alas, I often wonder the same when everything from my dishwasher to my necktie are now “green” and the weather keeps doing what it has always done.

        If you’d like to buy on the premise that your purchases will stop the oceans rising, more power to you. I prefer to determine if my dishes will get clean and whether the tie works with my shirts.

        • Club Flatworld says:

          We agree on green-washing and disagree on the value of more material efforts. Apparently that makes me a “climate Nazi.”

          Life is too short to reason with people who go out of their way to tell you that they’re immune to reason.

      • Jon C says:

        You don’t wonder what I think about it, you just want to criticize anyone who doesn’t follow the conventional orthodoxy. And thanks for quoting the party line on the percentage of scientists that support your view. That’s why I referenced Eugenics…

        My stance is simple, and I tend to echo Bjorn Lomborg: regardless of whether the planet is warming because of humans or not, there are a couple things that are exceedingly difficult to dispute: 1) the Earth has not warmed nearly as quickly as your “97%” claimed it would, and even if it had, 2) there are far more cost effective things that can be done to make the world better, cleaner and more prosperous for everyone than spending huge amounts of human energy and capital on reducing CO2 emissions to combat “climate change.”

        • Club Flatworld says:

          Jon C, in the course of just two comments, you pivot from dismissing man-made climate change as a myth to arguing that while it exists, there isn’t much that can be done cost-effectively. So while you lament that I don’t engage on your first ridiculous assertion, you then promptly retreat to more defensible ground, arguing that there isn’t much that we can cost-effectively do about it.

          Let’s talk about that, rather than dismissing scientists earnest concerns as being akin to eugenics (what an odd choice for metaphor, btw). Scientists have been wrong before and they’ll be wrong again, but we need to be willing to follow the evidence, rather than defending our personal dogmas with things that we know to be false, and then later acknowledging them as red herrings.

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