Sustainability Shines In Springtime

Traditionally, April and May mark the busiest months of year for our Sustainability team, which is part of our Corporate Social Responsibility Team (CSR). Yes, there is the obvious Earth Day celebration that takes place during that time, but I want to share some of the highlights from the last six weeks on what the team is working on here at Rackspace:

Dow Jones Sustainability Index
April kicked off one of the most rewarding benchmarking activities we do all year: the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). We work with more than 30 Rackspace leaders to provide detailed answers to more than 200 questions that measure our leadership across the three dimensions of people, pocket and planet. We have about eight weeks to crank this out—between April and May. Every year there are new items added that help us raise our game as well as provide new insight on emerging areas we need to get after. The team is in the home stretch on finishing this year’s submission as we speak (brew the coffee!). DJSI has Ranked Rackspace in the top 20 percent of companies worldwide in 2012 and 2013 for our Sustainability leadership. We’ll receive this year’s results in the fall—and I’ll talk more about that then.

Greenpeace Clicking Clean
Also in April, Greenpeace released its Clicking Clean report expanding its profile of the cloud industry. We always receive great feedback on our progress in shaping our long-term strategy. We were pleased to get a “B” this year in Renewables. So much good work still to go do.

Green Day
We celebrated our 8th Annual “Green Day” (sorry Billie Joe, we love your band, but our event is not named after it) on April 24. Rackers in San Antonio and Austin (about 65 percent of the company) celebrated with on-campus events focused on learning ways to lead more sustainable lives at home and at work. Our London Rackers will celebrate in June—they just do it differently. Mmmm I do love those local organic burgers we serve…

3 Day Startup
Seven (that’s right, SEVEN) new Clean Tech startups recently competed for sponsorships at Geekdom as part of 3Day Startup (3DS). I was honored to provide feedback to the groups that had been working together for less than 72 hours. I also got to see some great new ideas. Geekdom sponsored some of the teams to move forward to the next round of the Clean Tech Open, the world’s largest Clean Tech startup event.

Renewable Energy
We just inked a power contract that allows us to bundle our Renewable Energy Credits formally into the energy supply agreement for one of our US data centers. Bundling these credits into the agreements is something we’ve been working on for more than a year. This sends a clear signal to the market about our commitment to renewables. This year our goal is 40 percent renewable energy. It’s a small step—and will free the team up to focus on our next steps to bring renewables closer to our data centers.

Open Compute Lab
This month we opened the Open Compute Certification Lab at The University Of Texas at San Antonio. The College of Engineering is continuing to grow and coupled with a new Cloud Computing area of study, the Open Compute Certification Lab will enable students to get hands on experience with Open Compute Project (OCP) hardware.

Summer Internships
Next week, more than 20 summer interns will arrive to spend their summer working alongside Rackers across our Operations teams. Yes, you don’t need to wonder, there is a CSR intern—and they’ll be working on our 4th Annual Water Audit, examining water scarcity and business impact as part of their role as we develop long term water goals. We’ll also plan and execute a community volunteer event, among other things. (I can’t give it all away; she may be reading this blog).

In Closing
I’ll close by mentioning one of the highest compliments we are paid — when one of our teams at Rackspace embeds a sustainability-focused position in their organization to accelerate progress that are aligned to our CSR strategy. Two weeks ago our Workplace Services team (think offices) added one such position, accelerating the efforts on power, water and waste efficiency for our San Antonio HQ. In one week, the Workplace Services Sustainability Coordinator audited more than 600 water fixtures in our Castle (San Antonio) headquarters alone— faucets, ice machines, coffee makers, toilets, showers, you name (it if water comes out of it, it was in the audit). This is work that otherwise would have gone to the wayside when other priorities emerged (we were evaluating real time energy monitoring strategies and thanking our CPS Energy “Power Avengers” an on-site combined Innovation team *sniff * I’m gonna miss them). I cannot wait to see the results of the water fixture audit and ALL of the great work this team member will add to enable us to set our long-term water reduction strategy.

Like I said, April and May are the busiest months for our Sustainability team.

And I like it that way.

Melissa Gray

Melissa Gray is Rackspace’s Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility. She is responsible for defining and guiding the company’s sustainability strategy and activities around the globe. She joined Rackspace in October of 2009. Her prior roles include the development of operational support systems and Chief of Staff to the CEO developing Rackspace’s multi-year strategic plan. Gray brings over 15 years of business strategy and operations experience to Rackspace. She has worked for a Fortune 10 company, transforming complex legacy businesses through innovation. She holds three U.S. and EU Software Patents. Melissa received her B.A. from Western Michigan University. Follow Melissa on Twitter @GreenRacker.


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