Measuring eBay's Energy and Carbon Footprint
By: Lori Duvall
While we take individual steps to reduce our impact on the Earth each day, my focus over the past year has been on measuring and reducing the impact of about 29,000 employees and their related business operations. As you may imagine, energy use and the carbon emissions it generates is one of the major environmental impacts of eBay’s operations. Our data centers, office buildings, and business travel use the majority of the energy and are our biggest sources of greenhouse gases.
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an investor-driven organization that encourages the world’s largest companies to publically report their greenhouse gas emissions and the progress they’re making to reduce them. eBay has been responding the CDP’s annual survey since 2006 because we recognize the importance of acting on climate change as a company and want investors and other stakeholders to be fully informed about our successes and challenges in managing our greenhouse gas emissions. Just as they look at any other indicator of a healthy company, investors are increasingly aware that climate change can pose both risks and opportunities for companies, and they use the CDP information to make informed choices about where to direct their money.
The Carbon Disclosure Project will launch its annual report for S&P500 companies on September 12, 2012 in New York City. At that time, our 2012 response (which reports numbers for the 2011 calendar year) will be available on their website, where you can currently see our 2006 through 2011 responses. To give you a brief preview, eBay’s total, global greenhouse gas emissions for 2011 was about 256,000 metric tons – equivalent to emissions from powering about 22,000 US homes for a year. While this is a big number, I’m happy to say that it’s only a 3 percent increase over 2010, even though the company had a lot of growth during those 12 months.
Slowing the growth of emissions is key, but not enough, so we’re continually looking for sources of cleaner energy. Our recent announcement of the Bloom Energy project for our Quicksilver data center and last week’s release of a renewable energy request for qualifications are two big steps toward significantly decreasing the carbon we generate by utilizing clean energy.
While eBay’s carbon emissions went up by only 3 percent, our energy use tells another story, increasing about 35 percent over 2010 to 436,000 megawatt hours (MWh). How can energy use go up so much and carbon emissions stay relatively flat? It’s primarily due to the increase in natural gas and renewable energy generation and decrease in the use of coal, which is making the electricity grid cleaner. While using clean energy is better, we still need to reduce our overall energy usage along with pursuing cleaner energy sources. We’re aggressively responding to the increase in energy use by implementing a range of efficiency projects, from innovations in our data centers to building and operating greener buildings.
I expect carbon and energy to continue to be a big focus of my work as I head into my second year here at eBay, and I’m really excited to see the projects and investments we’re making come on-line.