Dell to go 'carbon neutral' by late 2008

Dell commits to becoming carbon neutral by the end of 2008.

Dell will neutralize its carbon emissions and become carbon neutral by the end of 2008, Chairman and CEO Michael Dell announced Wednesday.

Dell is the first major computer manufacturer to announce its intention to balance its carbon emissions with activities that reduce carbon in the atmosphere. Companies have a responsibility to improve the environment, Dell said during a speech in Washington, D.C.

"There's been a time in history of business where it's more important for organizations of all sizes to partner together to positively impact the Earth that well all share," Dell said. "It's not enough for Dell to be an environmental leader. We also need to partner with our customers ... to dramatically improve our own customers' environmental impacts."

Dell will reduce its net carbon emissions in several ways, Dell said. The company will focus on creating more energy efficient products and will purchase more energy efficient electrical power, he said.

Dell, the world's second-largest PC manufacturer, will also push its major suppliers to report and reduce their carbon emissions. If a supplier's carbon emissions are excessive, the company may penalize the supplier, although Dell didn't offer details about the penalties.

Dell has also expanded its Plant a Tree for Me program, which allows individual customers to pay a small amount to plant a tree as a way to offset the energy consumption of the laptops or PCs they purchase from the company. Dell has announced a Plant a Forest for Me program, partnering with companies including Salesforce.com, Ask.com and Advanced Micro Devices in a reforesting program intended to offset carbon emissions.

Companies can do many things to reduce carbon emissions, Dell said. They can purchase energy efficient IT equipment, consolidate servers through virtualization and use software to turn off computers and monitors after employees go home.

Customers demanding energy efficiency are pushing IT vendors away from the old price/performance metric to a new "performance per watt" metric, Dell said.

"Thinking about IT in terms of performance per watt forces businesses like ours to rethink the way products are designed and the way they're used," Dell said.

In June, the company set the goal of becoming "the greenest technology on the planet."

Governments can also play a role in encouraging companies to protect the environment, Dell added. Governments could give research credits to companies to improve energy efficiency, and could provide incentives for companies to encourage green policies such as telecommuting, he said.

The 3.9 million telecommuters in the U.S. saved 840 million gallons of gasoline in a year, according to a recent Consumer Electronics Association report.

Dell will continue to work with other tech vendors on environmental issues, Dell said. "While we vigorously compete in many areas in our business, when it comes to the environment, there actually are not competitors, only partners," he said.

Dan Burton, senior vice president for global public policy at Salesforce.com, praised Dell's speech. With its focus on improving the environment through its business practices, "Dell is really redefining what is corporate philanthropy," Burton said.

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