Round Rock (TX) - This morning Dell announced the company has achieved its goal of carbon neutrality in less than a year’s time and five months ahead of their schedule. Dell has done this by using a combination of methods ranging from energy efficiency, carbon offsets from rain forest preservation in Madagascar and voluntary green power purchases. The program was designed to help eliminate or offset 475,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Becoming a carbon neutral company isn’t simple, Dell managed to get the basics down to a tee: Get the numbers in order, make efficiency upgrades and then offset the rest. The company budgeted $5 million for the project, and that money was spent over a two year period.
Dell’s focus was on three categories: Direct emissions from actual energy production and use of fuel; indirect emissions from facilities energy use; and employee air travel. Carbon emissions from its building energy use was 80% of Dell’s calculated impacts. This is where the company concentrated its major energy efficiency efforts, which allowed them to reduce their emissions by 20,000 tons (4% and worth about $3 million in reduced energy use) of their carbon dioxide footprint annually.
Thus far, Dell has made efficiency improvements its main focus, expecting a return on investment within three years or less. The company has upgraded light fixtures at its Texas campus (which is claimed to be driven by 100% green energy), and updated heating and cooling systems all over the globe. There are occupancy sensors for light and a system power management for all of its computers.
The company said that the company’s annual investment in green electricity from utility providers, including wind, solar and methane-gas capture, has grown from 12 million kWh in 2004 to 116 million kWh in 2008.
Dell also announced that it is making additional investments in wind power in the U.S., China and India. Combined with green electricity purchases from utility providers, this equates to 645 million kWh and the avoidance of more than 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to Dell.
As already pointed out, the short time viability of their product (called planned obsolescence) might help determine the answer. Of course, almost all manufacturers are culpable in this - Dell can only use the parts available to them.