Cloudflare TV

🌐 Introducing Greencloud

Presented by Annika Garbers, Francisco Ponce de Leon
Originally aired on 

Greencloud is a coalition of Cloudflare employees who are passionate about the environment. Our vision is to contribute on every level to addressing the climate crisis and creating a more sustainable future, helping Cloudflare become a leader in sustainable practices among tech companies. Join us for this session to learn about Greencloud's history, mission, and progress so far.

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Transcript (Beta)

Welcome back to Cloudflare TV. My name is Annika and I'm on the product team here at Cloudflare and I'm here with Francisco in a segment accompanying the blog that we published earlier today as part of Impact Week, introducing Greencloud to the world.

So Impact Week has been going on all week.

This is the last day, but if you haven't seen the rest of the content around it that we published on our blog or on Cloudflare TV in segments all week, we've been talking about Cloudflare's social responsibility initiatives across the board and talking about all the facets of how we're helping build a better Internet.

And on Tuesday, we launched a whole bunch of initiatives around sustainability from the perspective of our products.

So how can we commit to building a more sustainable network for our our own network?

And then also how can we help our customers measure and set goals around sustainability and use Cloudflare to also build more sustainable products for themselves?

And we're sort of continuing that sustainability theme into today, into Friday, as we're officially announcing or launching Greencloud, which is our employee resource group around sustainability.

And I'm going to turn over to Francisco to walk through what is Greencloud in the first place, and then I'm excited for a couple of maybe clips and surprises along the course of this segment as we introduce this ERD to the sort of broader world for the first time.

Thank you, Annika.

And good morning, good afternoon, good evening, everybody, depending on where you're listening to us or seeing us from.

My name is Francisco. I work at the customer success team, and it's a pleasure to be here with Annika.

Yeah, we want to introduce further Greencloud into the community.

And Greencloud is a sustainability focused working group that was founded in 2019, and it's made up of Cloudflare employees who are passionate about the environment and addressing the climate crisis.

We are a cross-functional global team with the following areas of focus that we'll see.

Yeah, thank you. And the first one being awareness.

Greencloud compiles and resources about environmental activism with each other and the organization.

We believe that collective actions is critical to a more sustainable future, and that the ability to affect change starts with education.

We're also consistently inspired by the great work other folks in tech are doing in this space, and we love sharing updates from peers that push us to do better within our own spheres of influence.

The second one is support. Greencloud members are from across multiple departments and the organizational chart.

This is really cool because it enables us to be helpful in supporting multidisciplinary projects and cooperate with each other.

And the last focus area is advocacy.

As we recognize the importance of both individual and organizational level action, we continue to challenge ourselves, each other, and the broader organization to think about environmental impact in every decision that we make as a company.

So our vision for Greencloud is to contribute on every level to addressing the climate crisis and creating a more sustainable future.

And we really want to help Cloudflare become a leader among tech companies and our peers in promoting sustainability.

And to give some more context on why Cloudflare cares about this, our CEO Matthew Prince recently mentioned in an article around how we're helping build a greener Internet, that a recent study found that 2 % of all carbon emissions across the globe, about 1 billion metric tons per year, is attributable to the Internet.

And this is the equivalent of about the size of the entire aviation industry, which is why Cloudflare, an Internet company, is making bold commitments to become a greener and help build a greener Internet for everyone.

And additionally, we want to empower our colleagues to make more sustainable decisions in each of our individual lives as well.

Yeah, through projects, practices, and policies that have a focus on sustainability, we can continue building a culture of environmental consciousness and activism.


Well, our planet cannot really wait for us. With the COVID pandemic as well, people are fundamentally rethinking big decisions in their lives.

So now is the time for sustainability to be front and center in this, as this will definitely make a big difference towards everybody.

Next, we will cover our three focus areas, which are our network, our offices, and education.

We will start with our network. We currently have more than 200 pubs or points of presence around the world where our servers are at.

And they don't have an impacted environment. The amount of servers will keep on growing, so we would like to do so in a sustainable way.

How do we achieve that?

So transparency is one of Cloudflare's core values, and we cannot properly improve what is not measured.

This is why Cloudflare has just released its first annual report for carbon emissions inventory.

This report provides detail on exactly how we calculate our carbon emissions, as well as our renewable energy purchases.

Then, Cloudflare is committed to powering our network with 100 % renewable energy.

Other than this being great for the environment, from a customer perspective, this may also lead to more efficient and potentially cheaper products.

Moreover, by 2025, Cloudflare aims to remove all greenhouse gases emitted as the result of powering our network since our launch in 2010.

Our colleagues have just released an article on how we are leveraging ARM CPUs to deliver 57% more performance per watt, which means less energy consumption, or actually less need to install new servers, and therefore less carbon emissions.

And last but not least, we also want our customers to have control and visibility on their carbon footprint when using Cloudflare, so we are empowering them with more information about their emissions and for them to have the option of making even more sustainable focused decisions when using some of our products.

In addition to the network, the next area of focus for us is on our offices, our places.

The reason for this is because they use space, they use energy, they use materials, which all ultimately have an impact on the environment.

And so what we've been doing is partnering with our places team from day one.

There's lots of people from our places team that are members of Green Cloud, which is awesome to have engagement from them sort of at this ground level.

And we've been working with them on sustainability practices that range from having bins to classify different products, to recycle and going paperless wherever possible, to purchasing sustainable products for our office inventory, doing things like reducing the use of single use plastic and other materials that are not sustainable that are in the offices.

Some of our colleagues have also been involved in activities like tree planting and cleaning up or plogging and just picking up litter when you're jogging.

And once it gets safer to do activities like this in groups after the pandemic, we hope to continue expanding these activities further in more of the locations where we have offices.

And then moreover, as Michelle Zatlin, our COO and co-founder announced earlier today, Cloudflare is joining the 1% pledge, which is joining more than 12,000 companies and over a hundred countries to commit to making a tangible positive impact in our communities.

And as part of Cloudflare's pledge to give 1%, we're committing to donate 1% of our products and 1% of our time to give back to our local communities, as well as all the communities that we support online around the world.

And this means that employees are now empowered to spend more time each year supporting their communities and sustainability is one of the ways that employees can choose to spend their time.

And another big focus for us is education.

Why? Because individual actions can make a big difference.

Habits will not be adopted overnight, but once in place, they drive larger systemic changes.

And this is also, as a reminder, an employer resource group in the sense that we are employees that work at Cloudflare and we are not necessarily experts in the subjects.

So we want to learn from that and be able to share that information with our colleagues.

So there are a few initiatives that we have been working on.

We have hosted events such as sustainability themed trivia quiz sessions to spark discussion and teach participants techniques for making more sustainable decisions in our own homes and lives.

For instance, by using LED lights instead of incandescent light bulbs, on average, LED lights use 2.7 times less energy.

And we also share that dishwashers, when fully loaded, are actually more efficient than handwashing.

So I no longer feel guilty whenever I'm using the dishwasher.

I used to before, but not anymore. And another tip there is that we shouldn't rinse the dishes beforehand or actually we would use more water than the required one.

So there are a lot of really cool stuff that we get to learn there.

Then we're also working on sustainable product recommendations, like for instance, toothpaste in recyclable materials or even in pills that you can chew before brushing your teeth.

After you chew the pill, then you have like this sort of toothpaste foam and you can continue brushing as per usual.

This is something we're doing in a crowdsourcing way because we want colleagues from all around the world to contribute to this because probably the products one can purchase in, for instance, in the UK, where I'm currently at, are not the same products that may be available in the US or in our many other locations.

Moreover, we are also working on sharing internally which are the 100% renewable energy company providers in our local areas, because that way employees can also consider changing their providers.

And to be honest, sometimes these are actually cheaper than fossil fuel based providers.

So that's definitely something to consider if you can make a change today.

On the other hand, we have also curated guides, articles, and books for colleagues on peer -reviewed contents.

So whenever somebody is curious about learning new things, they will have a lot of different articles to go through.

And another thing we're doing as well is to encourage our colleagues to consider choosing sustainable investment plans whenever they are working on their retirement plans.

In the US, I think it's addressed as 401k, Annika, is that correct?

Yeah, you got it. Yes, cool. And in other countries, it has different names, but basically whenever you have control on your retirement plan, you can decide where you want to focus your investments on.

Last but not least, RingCloud threw a special celebration for April 22nd, which is Earth Day.

And in this case, it was the 51st Global Earth Day.

And during that week, we hosted a series of events to engage our employees and community in sustainability education and actions.

I'm really excited to see some of the videos that Annika will cover in a few minutes.

The last thing that we want to review just as in our sort of overview of GreenCloud here, and especially in hopes that this is important for some of you that are considering starting a group like GreenCloud, a sustainability-focused resource group within your own organizations, is where do we sort of fit in with the rest of people that are doing work on sustainability at Cloudflare?

Because as we've covered, it's a ton of people across the board, and Cloudflare is really thinking about sustainability from all sort of aspects.

We want to make sure that we can help build the most sustainable network, that we can build products to help our customers make sustainable choices, that our offices, any of our facilities, even things like our travel are as green as possible.

And so really where our group fits in is to help amplify the initiatives that are already going on within the company so that everyone within Cloudflare is aware of everything that's going on across the board.

Sometimes it's so much that it can be hard to keep up.

We want to support those initiatives where we can. So when there are projects that require things like peer feedback or volunteers to step in and provide additional help to get them over the line, GreenCloud members are ready and willing to do that.

And then also we want to lead some of our own initiatives with a special focus around sort of employee education, community, and supporting each other and helping ourselves make sort of our own sustainable decisions in our own lives.

And so with that, I would love to share some of the highlights from some of the Earth Day segments that Francisco is talking about that we were able to run during the week of Earth Day.

And if anyone's interested in seeing the full length of these segments, you can go and do so.

They're all available on the Cloudflare TV website, both in sort of live formats.

They might show up on the schedule or also in the recorded formats if you sort of scroll back and want to find them.

But I mentioned there's lots of initiatives going on sort of at the company level within Cloudflare, but one of the main things that we're focused on within GreenCloud is helping empower our employees to make sustainable decisions in our own lives.

And one of my favorite segments from Earth Week was this one, which is a panel discussion on the environment and each of us and decisions sort of that we're making in our own lives and just sort of a group chat about this.

So I'm going to play this quick segment from that panel.

Yeah, I think, so I'm vegan. I've been vegan for a few years, but I think you bring up a really good point about this, like all or nothing.

And in fact, when I decided to go vegan, I did not actually decide to go vegan.

I was like, I'll do basically the equivalent of, I think it's now more common in January, I'll do a month where I'm going to do vegan.

And I thought this was going to be temporary, but I was just going to commit to doing 30 days of vegan eating.

And I think like one thing I wanted to bring up in this conversation is I think there's kind of this inaccurate perception that a lot of these actions are sacrificial and that they're something you're giving up for the better good.

And I really approached it that way.

I was like, okay, here we go. It's going to be like tedious and it's going to be time consuming to make this food.

And I'm going to be the buzzkill.

And I didn't expect it to be so joyful. All the benefits that I get from finding new recipes and trying different types of food and feeling healthier and feeling like my values, I'm aligning my lifestyle with my values is something I never saw discussed in these conversations of how good it feels and how many knock-on benefits there are that it's not this big sacrifice.

And oh my God, it is so easy to be vegan now.

If anyone hasn't tried it, it's not a sacrifice. I mean, there is so much out there.

We are living in the age of easy vegan options. Even if you're not next to a Whole Foods, regular grocery stores have oat milk now.

Oat milk is everywhere.

It's just like impossible burgers. And everything is just a little easier than if you had maybe trialed this even five, 10 years ago.

I love that segment.

I think after that, we talked about this joyful aspect that Nikki was talking about and shared a bunch more things that folks have done in their own lives that are, improve the quality of their lives and don't have to be this sort of sacrificial gesture.

Yeah, that sounded really cool. And indeed, something really interesting that she was saying is the fact that now it's much easier to find vegan or even vegetarian options, whereas before it wasn't much of an option.

Whenever you go to a supermarket now, well, it depends on the supermarket, but there are specific sections for that.

So it's definitely something to consider. So pivoting a little bit from the personal aspect, since this is Cloudflare, we also got really nerdy on some of these segments.

And one conversation that I loved, which was largely duplicate of a presentation or Q&A format that we originally did internally for Green Cloud members, because one of the things that we love to do in this group is sort of find folks that have knowledge in different aspects of sustainability and bring them in to answer questions from the broader group, was with our colleague, Michael, about infrastructure and sustainability and sort of the impact of the Internet on the environment, which we discussed briefly earlier.

But he has sort of much more expertise and was able to share a sort of unique perspective here that I hadn't heard before.

There's the data that I've seen so far, and the analysis I've seen so far, says that even though global computing and the number of data centers, the number of servers in them, the number of workloads that they actually deliver and perform.

The last data that I saw was actually in late 2018 or 2019.

There's sometimes data lags in these analyses. But it looked at the period between 2010 and 2019 and found that that workload, the actual work that was performed in the number of machines that were in operation, grew something like five to six x, so like 500% over that nine years, 2010 to 2019.

But the actual electricity footprint, the amount of additional energy it used, was six percent greater.

Not a six percent rate per thing, but like total six percent.

So how did the workload expand like 500%, but the actual energy use expand only six percent?

The answer is that there's a little bit of a, maybe more of a, a lot a bit of a Moore's law for energy efficiency in this context, where all of the additional workloads were able to be expanded by finding efficiencies in the energy use.

That's sort of part of the logic of these hyperscale data centers. So the good news is that global computing has obviously exploded.

Everybody can sort of know that even without seeing the data, just how much they use the Internet, how much people sort of get from their phones and computers.

The interesting piece is that counterintuitively, there's been essentially no expansion in energy use in that time.

And clean energy has actually expanded in the data center world. So just anecdotally, I would bet a hundred dollars that the energy footprint of the Internet has actually dropped over the last 10 years rather than risen, even as its footprint, its use, its sort of scope has grown by, you know, five or six X.

My guess is that the total carbon footprint has dropped because it's not using any more energy and the energy and the carbon intensity of the energy it's using is lower because we're cleaning up the energy grid.

The challenge that we have is going forward.

Moore's law runs out at some point. So you can't just keep doubling energy efficiency every two years in perpetuity.

It gets really hard when you get to those really small ones, you sort of squeezing out the low-hanging fruit.

And so what I've seen is that the, and again, I'm not an expert on this, I'm just sort of the messenger, but what I've seen is that the experts on this are worried that in the next doubling or two, we're going to run out.

So they believe that we'll have one more doubling of Internet sort of global data center capacity, where we'll be able to sort of fund that doubling energy-wise with energy efficiency.

We'll be able to do that and not expand energy use because we'll find energy efficiency.

But beyond that, we're going to run out of luck. And so the question is, for a carbon footprint, do we win the race?

Do we get, do we clean up the energy supply before we begin to expand our energy use?

Because right now our energy use is not growing, but it's going to grow in the future.

And so the question is, by that time that it starts growing, will the supply of energy be so clean that it doesn't matter how much energy use because it's all clean energy?

So that's sort of the race that we have right now in front of us.

Very interesting topic, indeed.

I'm curious to know how is Moore's law working on other industries as well.

But yeah, this is why it's important as well to get conscious about how sustainability is going or moving in different areas and for us to do our part whenever possible.

And for instance, you consider, okay, this is a company that is doing a lot of research on improving sustainability.

Maybe this is a good company to also consider for us to be their customers or for our retirement plans to put maybe our investments there.

Of course, don't put your investments in front of places, but definitely something to consider if you can.

Absolutely. We had a couple other nerdy conversations on Cloudflare TV and other aspects as well.

In my favorite was with our executive sponsor, Doug Kramer, who's been fantastic in supporting this group as it's gotten off the ground, giving us advice about topics to focus on.

And this is just a couple of comments from our interview with him and Patrick Day, who's also on the policy team at Cloudflare about sort of the proliferation of sustainability as a topic in organizations and policy specifically, conversations in organizations every time.

It's one of those times where you're seeing an industry really grow at an explosive rate as an economic thing, as a hiring thing, and as a corporate thing.

But for the first time, having some of those sustainability concerns baked in in a way that we haven't before, where older industries are having to convert or change because they weren't being sustainable or achieving that equilibrium from day one, there really is a bit of an opportunity with tech companies as they grow up to do that in a more holistic way rather than to view it as, you know, I'm going to go do what I want to do, and these will be the regulatory constraints that I find in my path.

So I'm encouraged by that. I'm not claiming victory by any means. Obviously, we still have a very far way to go, but I think we're on a path to do it in a better way than I think it had been.

This or things like this had been done in the past.

So there's actually, Doug, that's a great point. There's been a really cool evolution, and when I was originally preparing for this conversation, I promised I wasn't going to go back this far, but I'm going to do it anyway.

So when I started doing research on how we ought to structure our programs, I started at the beginning.

So early 1900s, corporate social responsibility, you would have big companies like Standard Oil, and they would generate a lot of profits, and then they would make some big philanthropic endeavor.

So Rockefeller Center, or they would build a soup kitchen, but at the same time, they weren't paying their workers a living wage, so they were sort of creating the problem that they were also solving.

So in the 60s, and I think through the 90s, there was sort of an evolution where it was, okay, it's not just what corporations do with their profits.

They also should be accountable in how they make their profits, right?

And I think, Doug, that's sort of what you were touching on, sort of like the Clean Air, the Clean Water Act period, where it was like, okay, we really need to impose regulation on sort of an unregulated commercial space, because there are problems that need to be addressed.

And so I think what's been really cool, maybe in the last, even the last five, three to five years, is corporations have increasingly internalized these sort of sustainable development objectives.

And it's no longer how are you being restricted by something like sustainability, it's almost how you orient your core business towards achieving a sustainable objective.

And that really, I think, when you sort of align, this may be, this may be too optimistic.

But it's sort of when you align a market force with achieving a sustainable objective, you get something really powerful.

And I think you, all the resources and all the attention to ESG reporting and sustainability over the last three years, I think you're starting to see those stars align more so than they have in the history of corporate culture, at least in this country.

So I, Doug, I've seen the same thing. I think it's really cool period in this space, generally.

Yeah, it's exciting. I love, I love that framing so much.

I was talking to Michael from our infrastructure team yesterday about this on the sort of very micro level, like, in the case of if a company is trying to minimize the energy impact of their Internet infrastructure, they have lots of different options.

And a lot of the things that they can do to actually decrease the energy usage or increase the energy efficiency of their, their processing is actually good for the business for a whole bunch of different reasons.

Like it improves the performance of their products, so their end users have a better experience.

And so coming at this conversation from the perspective of there's destructive ways that you can make progress, or there's ways that you can work with the environment and with the resources that you have and continue to make progress and grow.

But thinking about sustainability as a kind of core value, I think it's going to be super important.

So that I think that's a great point. I think you're seeing, I don't know that it's been to use a legal term, dispositively established, but you're seeing more and more data from investor groups that are pursuing sustainable investment strategies, that those businesses that score high in sustainability perform better over the long term.

I didn't even realize I was in that last part of that last clip.

I was like, cool. Yeah, that was such a fun conversation.

And like, I left it feeling very optimistic. I think like, there's so much opportunity for organizations to do so much in this space.

Beyond just, you know, donating some portion of their profits, which is as Doug and Patrick were saying, sort of the old school way of approaching corporate.


And it's not only in the technology industry, but in so many others.

There are a lot of different industries where a similar economy can be applied, particularly in logistics, because not every business, but a lot of businesses have their logistics bit.

So if they can know, well, if everybody starts working towards that, pretty confident that things can get better.

Absolutely. I think we have time for one more, just barely, but we do.

This one was is with our amazing colleague, Amy, who interviewed some folks about how Cloudflare is creating greener places.

We did announce that we joined that we signed the UN Global Climate Compact.

So that was a really big first step for us to have, you know, and Amy, you were a big part of that too, to really, you know, put it out there and sign this agreement that like we are committed to taking things in the right direction holistically as a company, which is super exciting.

Now for us on our particular team, the Places team, doing things as simple, like taking, you know, we're starting with the baby steps that are like, you know, seem to be easy to do.

Looking at eliminating cans and bottles from our offices, right?

So no more of that waste.

And I, a previous company that I worked for, you know, we started this project as well.

And it was challenging because we got a lot of pushback from, you know, our team members, employees who didn't want to see their Red Bull go away.

Or, you know, there's, there was a whole story around a plastic bottle beverage that everyone loved and couldn't live without.

And it ended up being something going on, like all team chat, you know?

So there are little things like that. And, you know, we've learned a lot since then on how to educate our team members around the impact and the importance of getting their buy-in when making these changes that touch every single person.

And the good that the buy-in will do for the world, you know, just look at the data around how much trash we have every day or the recycling or whatever it is.

And it's pretty easy to make the case. Awesome. Well, this has been so much fun.

Francisco, thanks so much for joining me on this segment and also in Green Cloud in general.

It's always a delight. I'm really proud of what we were able to pull together for Earth Week and then excited about all the initiatives that we have coming up.

So if you're watching and interested to see more from Green Cloud, please just stay tuned.

More to come. Yeah.

Thank you so much. See you next time.

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🌱 Greencloud
Tune in to hear more about Greencloud. Greencloud is a sustainability-focused working group made up of Cloudflare employees who are passionate about the environment and addressing the climate crisis.
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