For this week’s Green Business: Behind the Scenes column, Yahoo’s Christina Page, the Global Director of Sustainability and Energy Strategy, took me behind the purple curtain to get an inside look at how Yahoo is tackling sustainability and adopting green technology.
Although sometimes overshadowed by Google, Yahoo is making quieter strides in reducing their carbon footprint and enacting sustainability initiatives across the company. Yahoo’s initial push for “green” came from Yahoo founders, Jerry Yang and David Filo, and has since flowed out to many departments across the company. We’re previously written about Yahoo’s state of the art, hydro-powered data center in Lockport, New York and the Sunnyvale campus’s recent LEED Gold certification.
Christina is the first one to hold Yahoo’s Global Director of Sustainability and Energy Strategy position. Previously, she spent time as a consultant at the Rocky Mountain Institute helping organizations evaluate sustainability initiatives. But, she wanted to get directly involved with implementing green initiatives and answered when Yahoo called.
Similar to many sustainability officers that I’ve met across the world, Christina’s primary job is to draw the connections between people and point out opportunities about how each person can be greener from contracts to facilities and data center management. As people see the connections, sustainability becomes embedded across the organization instead of residing in a single department. Christina was quick to credit the departments she partners with as they drive many of the ideas and implementation.
In fact, Washington state data center employees contacted Christina and asked if there was a way that they could reduce the use of pesticides at their location. Yahoo turned to Healing Hooves who brought 252 goats and a border collie to eliminate the weed problem. Because sometimes a low tech approach can be the greenest one… And, really, who doesn’t love goats?
Although the goats are inspirational, green data centers are the central focus of Yahoo’s carbon footprint reduction efforts. They are investigating options for on-site generation and utilize renewables through the grid whenever possible.
As the price of electricity rises and their power needs grow, Yahoo’s green team is also cognizant of the ramifications for the bottom line. So, Christina and company are also tasked with reporting and metrics that demonstrate that Yahoo is walking the walk and not just talking about it. And clean tech projects need to pencil out financially within a reasonable time frame.
At EarthTechling, we’ve seen organizations from Walmart to the U.S. Navy turn to renewable energy because of its financial benefits as well as environmental ones. I feel like this is a recurring theme at almost every conference I’ve attended this year and a key driver for corporations to adopt greener business practices.
What will the next green idea be? While Christina contemplates new initiatives during her ride from San Francisco to Sunnyvale on the bio-diesel Wi-Fi-enabled Yahoo shuttle – thousands of Yahoo employees around the globe are also thinking about how they can help be just a little greener today and what that means for the company’s future.
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, EarthTechling Editor in Chief Nino Marchetti was an early Yahoo employee. He left Yahoo in early 2000 to pursue new adventures like EarthTechling.