Gliffy.com Hosted Carbon Neutrally with Carbonfund.org
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
The following is a guest post from Matthew E. Porter, CEO of our partner Contegix, which provides high-level managed hosting solutions for enterprise applications and infrastructure. Great partners and customers do more than just refer other potential customers and pay their bills. They provide honest feedback, challenge you, and help make you to be better than you were the day before. Contegix has the fortunate situation of having great partners and customers who amaze us and do this everyday. Gliffy, a web-based diagram and flow chart editor, and a few others are some that have been pushing our sustainability goals. By the very nature of our business, we consume a large amount of power and do so from different sources. Our data centers have multiple power feeds and utilize diesel generators in case of complete power loss from utilities. In order to ensure operational status and efficiency, the generators need to be tested on a regular basis which amounts to consuming diesel fuel. We already take steps to minimize our carbon footprints, such as using low voltage CPUs, recycling all materials, and reimbursing employees for mass transit. In addition, it’s more efficient, and thus, arguable more sustainable to utilize large data centers, such as ours, rather than each company building small scale server room. Yet, we wanted to start experimenting with the next step in this effort, and Gliffy was happy to help. Enter Carbonfund.org. Carbonfund.org allows individual and companies to offset their carbon footprint by purchasing credits to invest in projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere. This is especially useful for companies like Contegix where we are very limited in our ability to reduce. There are a few points that make Carbonfund.org unique. It is a 501(c)(3) charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to fighting global warming. As part of their commitment, they work directly with certification bodies to ensure the quality of their offsets. More importantly, they provide transparency in terms of their finances and their offset projects, including education. Using Carbonfund.org, we wanted to offset the entire footprint of Gliffy’s managed hosted internet infrastructure at Contegix. This would include all aspects and resources of the service. Some of these are dedicated solely to Gliffy. Many others, such as core border routers and the switching fabric, are used by all customers. In addition, we had to compensate for the managed service portion of Gliffy’s infrastrucutre. In essences, this meant assigning a percentage of our people’s carbon footprint to the delivery of their service. This included everyone—from engineer to office staff to management, to the Assigning values for the shared infrastructure and people required calculating the usage on a per customer level. In reality, it uses many of the same work we perform (and all businesses probably should be performing) around measuring, managing, and forecasting growth and profitability for shared resources. This is added to the specific measurable environmental footprint data, such as average distance of employees from Contegix and facility sizes. These numbers were proportionally assigned to the Gliffy as a customer.
Factoring in the shared infrastructure and people carbon footprints ended up being the most important part. The dedicated infrastructure accounted for 39.2% of the carbon footprint. This left the remainder—a significant portion—for the shared. It also helped point us to where the best chances for natural reduction, rather than merely offsetting, are. Over the next 6 months, we will begin rolling this out to our existing customer base as an option for their hosting. New infrastructure and customers can start doing this now. If your organization is interested in a carbon offset hosting solution or wants to discuss in-depth how we offset Gliffy’s footprint, we would be more than happy to help you with this goal! Click here to contact Contegix.