There has been some irony in the couple of weeks with the juxtaposed publication of two studies. The lessons from both have great applicability to utilities.

The Oct. 26 Wall Street Journal article “Misleading Claims on “Green” Labeling” touted a terrachoice study about the prevalence of “greenwashing…the act of misleading consumers about the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.” The study accused “more than 95 percent of consumer products claiming to be green are committing at least clip_image002one of the ‘sins’ of greenwashing.”

There’s no doubt that marketers far and wide have tried to claim various mantles of sustainability and environmental friendliness for their products and services. It’s an obvious selling point to consumers. The companies that ignore it are doomed to declining market share over time. But marketers are having difficulty measuring up to the absolute environmental purity that some groups demand for claiming those mantles. The terrachoice study, and the Wall Street Journal’s acceptance of the study prove the point. Be sure about your claims or be ready to suffer some criticisms.

We’ve been observing this trend for some time now and we have been very careful in this blog to avoid a lot of hyperbole about how our solutions can contribute to sustainability. The one thing we have not wanted to do was put an even bigger target on our friends in the utility industry with half-baked claims about contributions to sustainability and environmental friendliness. We did not want to ever be accused of greenwashing. Believe me, there have been a lot of temptations because utilities are themselves big consumers of energy. Every little improvement in their operating activities reduces that footprint. We are proud to play a silent but vibrant part of those improvements.

But last week we did release a study that had some rigor and substance behind it and so we’re going to take a minute to claim the mantle of working toward sustainability and let our utility friends know about it.

We have long held within our organization that larger adaptation of the cloud for IT and application services will significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions where it’s adopted. And now we’ve gone about proving the claim, commissioning a study titled, “Cloud Computing and Sustainability: The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud” that was conducted by Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy. The study demonstrates that cloud computing has great potential to operate business applications more efficiently from an energy perspective. It’s a study worth reading, especially as utilities do everything they can to minimize their footprints. You can read more about the ground breaking study at our sustainability blog, comments by eWeek or download the study here. It’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time because of the vital issues it discusses for our day and age. – Jon C. Arnold