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TELUS and Google Cloud partner to create a more sustainable future

September 14, 2022
Google Cloud Content & Editorial

Environmental sustainability is a key priority for TELUS, a world-leading communications technology company. It continues to rank in the top 100 most sustainably managed companies in the world, and seeks to make a healthier planet for all by leveraging its global-leading technology, compassion to drive social change and reduce our collective carbon footprint through innovative technologies and sustainable business practices.

TELUS surpassed its sustainability objectives in 2019 and is now on a journey to procure all of its electricity from renewable or low-emitting sources by 2025. Next, it aims to achieve net carbon neutrality for its operations by 2030. TELUS has also been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 21 consecutive years, a feat unmatched by any other North American telecom or cable company. In 2021, it became the first company in Canada to release a Sustainability-linked bond (SLB) framework and complete an SLB offering, formally linking TELUS financing to its environmental performance.

“We’ve spent the last decade becoming a global leader in sustainability, helping make the planet healthier by ensuring that our operations are as environmentally responsible as possible,” said Geoff Pegg, Head of Sustainability and Environment at TELUS. 

In part, TELUS’ strategy is focused on three key areas:

  1. Seek the best renewable energy options available

  2. Focus on migrating workloads to the cloud

  3. Embrace a multiplier effect through the use of sustainable partners

Renewable energy impact

Part of this environmental responsibility involves investing heavily in renewable energy sources through power purchase agreements (PPAs) that help renewable energy providers like wind farms and solar companies develop their infrastructure. TELUS executed PPAs with four Alberta-based solar and wind facilities to provide 100 per cent of its electricity load demand in a province where one-third of the grid is powered by coal.

As a technology company, electricity represents a large portion of TELUS’ energy needs: 80 percent of the operational carbon footprint comes from the power requirements for TELUS’ network and administrative buildings, Pegg explains. While TELUS is using renewable energy sources and low-emitting energy grids to power its buildings and network, there’s also the often-forgotten part of the carbon emissions equation: the energy it takes to power data centers. As the International Energy Agency recently reported, data centers represent 1 percent of the global electricity demand and that figure is expected to keep rising as the world increases usage of data-heavy technologies. 

“It's probably no surprise that everyone, whether you're a business or a consumer, is concerned about reducing carbon emissions,” said Chris Talbott, the Google Cloud Sustainability Lead. “A lot of us think about the carbon emissions associated with our cars or with the electricity that powers our homes, but oftentimes we forget about the carbon emissions that come from the digital services that we use or the networks required to deliver that data.”

As a leader in sustainability, how can TELUS meet the energy demands of its customers while also protecting the environment? One way is through the company’s previously announced collaboration with Google Cloud. The two companies are working together to build a more sustainable world through technology and reduce TELUS’ carbon footprint, create value along the entire supply chain, and optimize industry solutions for social impact through data analytics and machine learning.

Taking a cloud first approach — reducing carbon emissions with green cloud computing

Google became carbon neutral in 2007 and has achieved 100 per cent renewable energy matching every year since 2017. Google has invested in renewable energy to match the electricity we use across our entire operations, including Google Cloud, meaning every workload that TELUS runs on Google Cloud has been matched with renewable energy purchases.

“The operational carbon footprint of running anything on Google Cloud is zero,” Talbott said. Also, by working with Google, TELUS gets the benefit of economies of scale using less electricity. Not only is TELUS leveraging Google data centers, it’s also relying on the digital collaboration made possible by Google Workspace to reduce the amount of travel required by employees attending meetings in different offices. Collaboration tools like Google Meet can reduce the carbon footprint of in-person conferences by 94 percent.

Google compensates for the environmental footprint of any electricity used in the data center and out to the edge network. “You can feel pretty good about using Google Meet because it’s carbon-neutral,” Talbott said. 

Multiplier through sustainable partnerships — green cloud computing radiates out

By supporting TELUS in its environmental sustainability efforts, Google Cloud is also enabling TELUS to do the same for its various partnerships. For example, powered by Google Cloud’s infrastructure and data analytics capabilities, TELUS is partnering with Picacity (formerly NXN Digital) and Google Cloud to deliver an ecosystem of integrated smart technologies that enable cities to improve the lives of their residents. 

From dynamic traffic signaling that reduces congestion and emissions, to data analytics that create smarter, more efficient city planning, the partnership is transforming the way municipalities operate in our increasingly digital world.The partnership is built on four foundational pillars of infrastructure and environmental sustainability, intelligent transportation, public safety and security, and health. In the case of intelligent transportation, this means sensors, cameras, and other devices are built into or near roads, sidewalks, and bike paths to provide data for innovative software to improve traffic flow in real time. The data can then foster informed decisions about infrastructure, city planning, fleet optimization, and public safety.

All of these environmental measures may seem small when compared with the enormity of the problem that is climate change, but as Talbott said, “Change begins with the small decisions we make every day such as paying attention to the practices of companies that we've come to rely on daily in the modern world. They may seem small and in the margins, but at scale, this is how we can make a real impact.”

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