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IT leaders are choosing a sustainable future

August 11, 2021
Natalie Lambert

Global Director Storytelling, Google Cloud

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The global-wide interruptions of the coronavirus pandemic provided the opportunity for businesses to take a closer look at how we work, learn, live, and consume. With work stoppages and quarantine orders in place, carbon emissions and pollution levels saw significant reductions, highlighting how business and environmental sustainability are linked. As the world returns to work, businesses need to adjust to the new reality and make decisions that will ensure the continuing sustainability of our planet. 

Understanding the need for sustainability

A recent Google-commissioned study by IDG, based on a global survey of more than 2,000 IT decision-makers, illustrated the importance of sustainability for organizations’ IT departments while also revealing that significant work is needed before businesses meet their sustainability goals. The good news is that ninety percent say that sustainability is a priority of their IT department and as more organizations consider the benefits of digital transformation and cloud migration, 75% report that sustainability is a “must-have” or “major consideration” when evaluating cloud providers.

Businesses face both internal and external pressures to reform their practices and processes to meet new targets around sustainability, and IT leaders have an important role to play in that effort. Specifically, 54% said sustainability initiatives were important to their companies because of corporate social responsibility, 46% said it was because of environmental regulations and mandates, and 40% said it was due to the climate change impacts.


The research also examined the areas where IT leaders are looking to make positive changes for sustainability in their organizations. Not surprisingly, 62% said in their IT infrastructure and data centers, 53% their supply chain, and 46% in their facilities and building operations.

Facing the obstacles to progress

However, for many organizations, behaviors lag intent. Only 67% actually have environmental sustainability targets in place. The gap between behavior and intent widens when looking at digitally forward vs. digitally conservative organizations. For the purposes of the study, digitally forward companies were defined as either digital natives or those with a digital strategy and implementation in place. Digitally conservative organizations either have no strategy in place, or are in the process of considering or planning digital transformations, but haven’t reached the stage of implementation. 

The study revealed that digital natives embracing cloud solutions were more likely than more conservative organizations to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Twenty percent of digital natives are implementing IT initiatives to reduce emissions to become more environmentally sustainable, while only 10% of digitally conservative organizations have done so. 

When considering the effects of the COVID-10 pandemic, 20% of respondents from digital conservative organizations delayed or cancelled initiatives around reducing emissions to become more environmentally sustainable compared to only 12% for digitally forward respondents. 

Sustainability is in our DNA

Sustainability has been a core value for Google since our inception. We were the first major company to become carbon neutral in 2007 and we were the first major company to match our energy use with 100 percent renewable energy in 2017 — and have continued to do so every year since. We are proud to operate the cleanest global cloud in the industry, and we’re the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. It is this commitment that makes Google the leading choice for organizations with sustainability initiatives. 

To learn more about the IDG findings and how IT leaders are implementing sustainable solutions, download the full report.

Interested in how Google Cloud's commitment to providing sustainable solutions can help IT leaders and their organizations meet their own sustainability targets?

Google is focused on enhancing our products to help billions of people take action to reduce their environmental footprint.

  • Google creates tools and invests in technology that will foster a carbon-free future for everyone and reduce carbon footprints.

  • Google Cloud is the only major cloud provider to purchase enough renewable energy to cover our entire operations, enabling us to operate the cleanest cloud in the industry.

  • When running on Google Cloud, an organization’s usage is net carbon neutral, and the electricity used to power workloads is matched 100% with renewable energy.

Looking for more? Check out our blog that introduces the Google Cloud Region Picker, which helps organizations choose a Google Cloud region based on carbon footprint, price, and latency.

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