Apr 22,2020 Miscellaneous 3

Reducing CO2 Emissions One AWS Cloud Migration at a Time

Published on April 22, 2020 by Lori Day

There are as many reasons to migrate to the cloud as there are companies that choose to migrate. Saving time, saving money, increasing security, and gaining flexibility and scalability are some of the main reasons we hear about at CloudChomp. However, there is a valid and often overlooked reason to migrate to AWS: saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions.

According to two datacenter studies done by the Natural Resources Defense Council, datacenters in the United States accounted for approximately 2% of the entire country’s electrical energy usage in 2014 (NRDC).   In 2013, 91 billion kWh were used by datacenters in the United States and that number is expected to grow to 140 billion kWh this year.  Just to put that into perspective, 91 billion kWh is enough to power every residence in NYC for two full months and 140 billion kWh is the amount of power that comes from 50 power plants!

Over half of that usage was from small and medium sized businesses with small server rooms or closets on site. According to a 2012 NRDC study, the power used by on-premises server rooms accounted for about 30% of the company’s total power usage, and much of that is wasted from servers and all of the cooling equipment running 24/7 during times where there is very low usage or none at all.  It all adds up to approximately $3.8 billion wasted in unnecessary expenses annually, and an increased carbon footprint that can easily be reduced by migrating to AWS.

How does cloud compute help save the earth and save money?  Let’s look at on-premises first and compare it to cloud computing.  With on-premises, we typically see that server utilization is around 15% on average in order to account for peak usage as well as growth.  Cloud computing works differently because you only pay for what you use, and there are virtually no limits to how much you can utilize.  According to a 2015 AWS blog post, AWS customers provision about 23% of what they did when they were on-premises, and their server utilization is closer to 65% (vs. 15% utilization with on-premises solutions).  Additionally, cloud providers use servers that are on average 71% more energy efficient.  If we multiply the cloud utilization by more efficient servers (23×71), we find that companies that move to the cloud from on-premises solutions are automatically saving 84% on their power usage.

This doesn’t take into account the cost savings of not having to purchase new servers and cooling equipment, as well as upgrading current equipment. Not only is the reduction in energy consumption lowering the carbon footprint and saving money, but it also reduces CO2 emissions from not having to purchase or upgrade equipment.  All of the equipment, at some point, has to be produced, boxed and shipped, then once it’s of no use anymore, it has to be decommissioned and disposed of, which increases CO2 emissions.

Lowering the carbon footprint is a goal many companies have and migrating to the cloud is one step that can be taken to accomplish this goal.  Large scale cloud providers have taken giant leaps to help reduce their carbon footprints thereby making your choice to migrate to the cloud even greener than you already thought.  AWS, for example currently has three wind farms in operation with four more being built that should be in use in the next year or so.  They also have six solar farms and are in the process of adding one more.  AWS exceeded 50% renewal energy in 2018 with the goal of being at 100% in the near future.  Once the new sustainability projects are complete, they plan to be able to produce 2.9 million megawatt hours of renewable energy each year.  With these projects and other steps they have taken to reduce their carbon footprint, their data centers perform the same tasks as traditional data centers with an 88% lower carbon footprint.

CloudChomp fully supports the mission in reducing CO2 emissions while also saving our customers time and money by helping them create a migration plan to AWS.  Reach out to us so we can show you how you can accomplish your goals quickly.






“AWS & Sustainability.” AWS, 2018, aws.amazon.com/about-aws/sustainability/.

Barr, Jeff. “Cloud Computing, Server Utilization, & the Environment.” AWS News

Blogs, 2015, aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/cloud-computing-server-utilization-the-environment/.

“Data Center Efficiency Assessment ” nrdc.org/sites/default/files/data-center-efficiency-assessment-IP.pdf.

Hamilton, James. “Greenpeace, Renewable Energy, and Data Centers.” Perspectives, 2015, perspectives.mvdirona.com/2015/05/greenpeace-renewable-energy-and-data-centers/.

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