Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Google = 5X C02 per user versus Facebook. Why?

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Facebook just released its 2011 energy and carbon emission figures, summarized in an infographic on Facebook (of course). As usual for IT companies, Scope 2 (energy purchased) is the largest source of emissions.

The story in the media has  typically been reported as variations of “Facebook: better for the planet that Google“.

But it’s difficult to compare without converting to per user figures. What do those look like?

  • Google:      1.46 kg C02 / user (2010 figures).
  • Facebook: 0.269 kg C02/user (source).

At least according to these figures, the per user carbon emission of Google is more than 5 times that of Facebook. Why? Both firms use lots of data centers to do similar things for similar types of users. Is it about raw numbers (numerator) or users (denominator)? More in another post.

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Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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