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Why Cisco, Why Solar, Why Now

In the past year, Cisco has significantly ramped up its use of renewable energy with a focus on solar.  We’ve been sharing these activities in press releases, blog posts, videos and our annual CSR report, but we haven’t talked about why – and these reasons are deeper than just a commitment to the environment.

Here’s a short summary of some of our recent activities with renewable energy:

  • Signed an agreement with NRG Renew LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NRG), to purchase the output of a 20 MW solar energy facility located in Blythe, California for our San Jose headquarters and surrounding Bay Area locations
  • Completed 4 on-site solar projects at our sites in Texas, Massachusetts, and Bangalore, India taking our total solar production capacity over 2 MW (see photos below)
  • Launched a solar discount program for employees and contractors, along with their friends and family, to simplify and reduce the cost of installing solar panels on their homes leading to over 50 installations totaling over 250 kW in less than 1 year
  • Joined the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles supporting the increase in accessibility to renewable energy along with many of our peers in the technology industry
Free standing solar PV array in the parking area of Cisco's campus in Boxborough, MA

Free standing solar PV array in the parking area of Cisco’s campus in Boxborough, Massachusetts

Solar PV array on top of Cisco’s data center in Allen, Texas

Why have we undertaken these activities?  Certainly, each of these actions are helping bring more renewable power on line, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving us toward a better environment.  But any company, in any industry, can make the same claim.  To be authentic, it has to hold a special significance related to why Cisco exists.

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Sustainability Up on the Roof

When most people think about sustainability at a company like Cisco, they envision solar arrays and smart cities – and we certainly have those! But humming quietly on the roof of every building is a significant energy consumer, the air conditioning.  So just as we innovate solutions for the Internet of Everything, we also search for ways to improve facility energy efficiency in many ways that aren’t obvious to building occupants.

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The Cisco Live! Green Plan

Cisco Live! 2014 will take place in San Francisco from May 19 to 22. Cisco is no stranger when it comes to finding new and innovative ways to support green initiatives such as energy conservation, sustainability and the smarter use of fiscal and natural resources. In fact, it’s been a part of how we have been doing business for years.

In recent years, organizations such as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and Greenpeace have ranked Cisco on top amongst other major IT companies.

Cisco Greenpeace
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Trading Up to Lower Carbon in Bangalore

Electric trading markets that allow consumers to procure blocks of energy directly from generation providers have existed for a long time, but have tended to be in areas with highly stable distribution systems with access limited to large consumers.  Customer segmentation within electricity markets has therefore been limited, with utilities defining tariffs and establishing service reliability based on customer type: residential, commercial, or industrial.  However, technology platform enhancements have enabled smaller consumers to participate in electric trading markets and enabled system operators with a less stable grid to provide this service.

The result is that consumers, and not just the utility companies, can define the characteristics and pricing for their electric service. 

For Cisco, this change is allowing us to purchase electricity in one of our most important, but least reliable and highest-carbon locations — Bangalore, India — in a new way that reflects our requirements for availability and environmental impact.

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Introducing Cisco EnergyWise Finder

On June 13 at Cisco Live 2012 San Diego, the Cisco Unified Access team announced Cisco EnergyWise Finder, a new patent-pending feature built into the Cisco EnergyWise protocol that allows you to find the power source of Cisco devices and EnergyWise-capable endpoints.

Hold on… So, what is Cisco EnergyWise?

I get this question often, and so although rehearsed this is what I say: Cisco EnergyWise is an energy management protocol based on Cisco IOS Software for monitoring, controlling, and reporting the energy use of information technology devices. EnergyWise combined with Cisco devices and an ecosystem of partner devices turns your network into a control plane for energy management. With certain building management system partners you can even extend this control plane to facilities and non-IT devices.

Ok, now that you understand Cisco EnergyWise, what is EnergyWise Finder and why is it important?

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