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Cisco Systems Goes 100 Percent Renewable in the United States

Cisco Systems is a worldwide leader in the IT field. The networking brand specializes in routers, cybersecurity, and switches. You’ve likely seen their ubiquitous logo on most office conference hardware and telephone systems. The company recently made a huge announcement that its goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy for their United States operations has been met. This achievement is just one part of the company’s move toward a circular, sustainable economy. They are future-focused: dedicated above all else to build an internet and products that are accessible to all, that protect the planet’s natural resources, and that significantly reduces the IT industry’s impact on the environment.

Cisco takes their sustainable commitments to heart. In fact, it’s how they run their business. Their business decisions and actions are now all geared toward both a sustainable and inclusive future. It’s not just about what they do in their own manufacturing centers and for their own employees. They understand the impact of their products on the world. Because of that, they are focusing on innovations in hardware, software, and silicon that will help everyone using Cisco products lessen their impact on the environment. This is an intentional move away from a linear economy to a holistic approach that values natural resources. Cisco hopes this will inspire all of the company’s customers to look at their own impact on the world.

A prime example of Cisco’s widespread global commitment is its support of the Paris Climate Agreement. Five years ago, Cisco committed to circular design principles in all of their packaging by the fiscal year 2025. This huge breakthrough means decreasing the use of virgin plastic by at least one-fifth, a 50 percent improvement in product packaging size, and a 75 percent reduction in packaging foam use. These are huge cuts in usage, and add up to a remarkable impact globally. In addition, 100 percent of any new products and product packaging must incorporate a 100 percent circular design. 

“We are just getting started,” explained Irving Tan, Cisco’s Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations. “We know that to make a difference in the fight against climate change and waste, we have to look beyond our walls. Today, our products are the foundation of every major cloud, data center, mobile network, video call, store, office, and digital operation in the world. Well over 90 percent of Cisco’s impact on the planet is driven by emissions associated with the 24/7 use of those products.”

The company’s new Silicon One internet solution is one of their recent breakthroughs that is changing the way cloud data centers work. It’s a solution that has been called a game-changer for the world’s entire paradigm of energy consumption. The way it works is simple – make data centers sustainable. One Cisco cloud data center alone contains more than 100,000 servers. These servers operate using switches, and each switch takes up energy. The new sustainable silicon switch saves up to 580 kilowatts of energy, translating to nearly $10 million in energy cost reduction – and that includes a decrease in consumer energy bills.

These data center changes are spurred on by the use of sustainable power such as wind and solar. In June 2020, Cisco signed its first long-term wind energy power purchase agreement with a West Texas wind farm. That farm will provide 40 percent of the annual electricity to Cisco data centers in Richardson and Allen, Texas. The wind farm decreases Cisco’s greenhouse gas emission in Texas by more than 18,000 metric tons, equivalent to taking 4,000 cars off the road or planting 300,000 trees. Many other data centers, such as the one in Raleigh, North Carolina, are nearing 100 percent of their goal to be run fully on renewable energy, create zero waste and be water neutral. Cisco opened its first solar energy facility in Blythe, California in 2017, and a second in 2018 in Karnataka, India, to power its campus in Bangalore, India. These wind and solar agreements not only help the company meet sustainability goals, but they reduce energy cost and volatility locally. An additional bonus is that each creates new local jobs (300 for the Texas facility alone) and adds clean, renewable electricity to those regional electric grids.

Cisco’s commitment to the environment is simple: the company wants to set a high standard of sustainability and show that the IT industry can soar with zero impact on the environment at all. The company continues to evaluate and implement renewable energy systems worldwide, with more than 500 projects in the past five years. Cisco is dedicated to leading in a conscious culture, supply chain excellence, and technology for good – all underscored by a desire to create a better world for everyone. 


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