Sustainability Success Story: VMware’s Journey to Becoming a Sustainability Leader
VMware is a pinnacle example of radical scaling of sustainability within a corporation. Their rapid rise to the top of the corporate sustainability ladder sends a message to other companies that it’s never too late to begin your renewable energy journey.
In 2015, VMware dove head-first into their commitment to renewable energy. While the company’s culture of sustainability has been present since its inception, VMware’s sustainability strategy was not explicit. Just 2 years ago, the company had not yet released their carbon footprint nor developed a formal carbon reduction strategy. Fast-forward to 2017: VMware has made ambitious public sustainability commitments by pledging to attain carbon neutral emissions by 2020, developing science-based targets in accordance with the Paris Agreement, and executing on a strategy to address electricity use with renewables across their global footprint. Today, the company’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in everything it does—from the products it creates to its everyday operations. For VMware, it’s never been enough to simply ‘do less harm’. As a recognized sustainability leader, their ultimate goal is always to do more good.
“VMware has a cultural legacy of being deeply green. The innovation of virtualization was one that said we can do more with less, in fact, lots more. Two years ago, we decided to formalize our sustainability work in order to amplify our impact. Since then, we’ve measured our own carbon footprint, set goals to reduce it and quantified the significant impact that our customers have experienced through our products.” ~ Nicola Acutt, Vice President, Sustainability Strategy
VMware’s portfolio-based strategy to renewable energy procurement serves as a role model for other companies as a way to leapfrog the competition and rapidly accelerate their environmental stewardship. To address all aspects of their energy portfolio, VMware employs a roadmap approach that considers three things: how to reduce the total amount of energy they consume, how their products and services themselves can have a positive environmental impact, and how they can use clean technologies to eventually eliminate carbon from their operations.
VMware engages on all fronts of their environmental sustainability portfolio, including:
At VMware, they refer to this step in their sustainability journey as “doing more with less”. Energy efficiency improvements not only decrease the total amount of electricity the company needs to operate at the same level of productivity, but also decrease their energy-related expenses and pollution-causing greenhouse gases. VMware’s more than 100-acre Palo Alto HQ campus includes 9 LEED® certified buildings, and the company boasts over 1 million square feet of LEED® certified space globally. Every year, VMware expands their commitment to energy efficiency with additional green building projects, HVAC enhancements, lighting retrofits, and building management system upgrades. In 2014, the company achieved 100% virtualization of their own IT infrastructure, further reducing their overall energy demand.
Sustainability underpins VMware’s business—it is baked into the purpose of their products and services. VMware’s virtual technology contributes long-term positive value to the company’s customers and partner ecosystem. Their datacenter and cloud offerings allow organizations to manage IT resources virtually, in place of physical infrastructure, thus reducing IT expenses and total energy consumption. In their Global Impact Report, VMware notes that over the last 13 years, their customers have avoided 340 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by using their virtual servers (see full report). VMware’s operating model relies on doing business in a net-positive way; providing products and services that extend benefits beyond their own operational borders helps ensure that they put back more into society, the environment, and the global economy than they take.
Clean Energy Procurement
VMware strives for radical corporate responsibility, demonstrated by their aggressive pursuit of 100% renewable energy. In 2015, VMware made its first voluntary purchase of green power, purchasing 60,000,000 kWh of American Wind™ RECs, which addressed more than 100% of the company’s U.S. operational load. RECs began as the roots of VMware’s renewable energy journey, and to this day, remain a vital piece in the company’s drive to improve and expand renewable energy markets around the world.
In 2016, the company advanced these efforts by engaging in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, signing onto the RE100 and the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, and reporting emissions data to CDP. For their very first CDP response, VMware earned an impressive score of A-, positioning them at the leadership level. By 2020, the company plans to achieve both carbon neutral emissions for scope 1 and scope 2, as well as 100% renewable-powered operations.
VMware also contributes to the renewable economy by investing in onsite solar at their headquarters location. An onsite solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) provides VMware’s facilities with 965,000 kWh/year of clean energy, equivalent to CO2 emissions that result from burning 719,932 pounds of coal. Additionally, the company empowers its employees to use renewable energy in their lives outside work with various initiatives and programs. One excellent example is SunShares—an employee purchase program that provides group discounts on solar and zero-emissions vehicles.
VMware’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in every facet of the business. Apart from being recognized by the EPA as a leader in green power use within the tech sector, VMware’s rapid ascent to becoming a sustainability leader stands out amongst even the earliest corporate, industrial, and institutional (C&I) renewable energy adopters. While this recognition is exciting, VMware wishes to use their transformation as an example for other companies to follow, to create a legacy of lasting change. Though there is still work to be done, the company has covered an immense amount of ground since they initiated a formal carbon reduction strategy just two years ago. Their inspiring sustainability journey should send a message to other companies debating a carbon reduction strategy: it’s not too late to join the winner’s circle of renewables and sustainability.
Start your own sustainability journey by downloading, “Activate an Efficient & Sustainable Future”.
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