The effort to build a world powered by clean energy needs champions in every arena of our economy: activists on the streets, politicians in government, engineers in labs, and corporate leaders in boardrooms.

Today, we’re happy to recognize that Salesforce has joined the ranks of a growing club of global technology companies that agree that a green cloud is important to their growth, and that a truly green cloud must be powered by renewable energy.

Despite the impressive gains in energy efficiency achieved by data center operators in recent years, data centers remain among the fastest growing users of electricity; they grew at nearly 14% in 2012, and are projected to grow at least another 10% in 2013. 

Salesforce is likewise growing rapidly, as are its greenhouse gas emissions – its absolute emissions are up nearly 50% over the past year. The expected growth of the Salesforce cloud means that it will need more data centers soon to store its clients’ data. That means using more electricity, which is why it’s so important that Salesforce has committed to grow using renewable energy.

Salesforce’s goal to power its cloud with renewable energy sends an important signal to the rest of the sector that energy efficiency is important, but not enough.  Salesforce has been an early pioneer in the sector’s shift to the cloud, and other major data center operators should follow the example that Google, Facebook, and now Salesforce have set by being more transparent about their energy and making a renewably powered cloud an explicit goal. While the transformation of Salesforce’s cloud to renewable electricity will not happen overnight, the commitment and initial steps in Salesforce’s announcement show that the company intends to play a leading role in shaping a truly green cloud.  

Salesforce’s leadership stands in sharp contrast to other cloud computing companies, most notably Amazon Web Services (AWS), which does not provide even basic information to its customers on the environmental impact of the AWS cloud or the extent to which it is powered by renewable energy.   

Greenpeace will work with Salesforce to monitor its progress and ensure that it takes steps to meet its goal of fully powering its data centers with renewable electricity. We will also continue to call out the companies that have yet to see the light, like Microsoft and Amazon, which continue to lag behind the rest of the technology sector by refusing to take steps to curb their use of coal, gas and nuclear power for their data centers.

If those companies want to remain on the cutting edge, they should follow the lead of Salesforce and others by embracing clean energy as a core part of doing business in the 21st century.