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Electric Vehicle Charging Sparks Cisco Employees to Reduce Carbon Footprint

James Lynch’s Nissan Leaf bolts down a shady street in San Jose, California, hardly making a noise as it zips between lanes at 40 miles per hour. With the quick flick of the transmission and a forceful press of a foot, the powder-blue car jumps ahead on the smooth pavement with the force of a small sports car. This isn’t a Mustang, though.

It’s an electric car, and James Lynch is one of thousands of Cisco employees worldwide committed to reducing their gasoline consumption and carbon footprint by changing the way they drive. Cisco is supporting employees like James by installing more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations on its campuses worldwide.

A row of electric cars charges at Chargepoint stations on Cisco's San Jose campus

A row of electric cars charges at ChargePoint stations on Cisco’s San Jose campus

Cisco joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge in March 2013, contributing to a national goal of achieving a tenfold increase in the number of employers offering workplace charging in the next five years. More than 55 companies have joined the Workplace Charging Challenge. According to the Department of Energy, there are 8514 public charging stations and over 20,000 charging outlets available to electric vehicle drivers in the United States.

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Cisco Takes Holistic Approach to Reducing Energy Use and Costs

Cisco’s EnergyOps team is tasked with reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency at our offices, labs, and data centers worldwide. Cisco’s labs are our largest consumer of energy and although we are putting a lot of effort into improving the efficiency of those environments, we’re finding great success in taking a more holistic approach that includes implementing efficiency opportunities within all of our building support systems such as HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), building controls, and lighting.

For example, in January 2014 we engaged in such a holistic energy efficiency effort at a number of our Shanghai facilities, which included three primary areas of improvement:

  • Computer room air conditioning (CRAC) unit retrofits
  • Software upgrades for cooling equipment
  • Lighting upgrades for offices

In just 3 months, 5 buildings at our Shanghai location underwent energy efficiency upgrades in these areas that will generate approximately US$145,000 in savings per year.

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Cisco Announces New Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

In our fiscal year 2012, which ended in July, Cisco completed and met our latest greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal.  To recap our past goals:

  • September 2006: Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment to reduce GHG emissions from all Cisco business air travel worldwide by 10% absolute (FY06 baseline).
    This goal was met in 2009.
  • June 2008: EPA Climate Leaders commitment to reduce all Scope 1, 2, and business-air-travel Scope 3 GHG emissions worldwide by 25% absolute by CY12 (CY07 baseline).
    Both the Scope 1 / 2, and Scope 3 parts of this goal were met in 2012.

We believe formal goals should address the most material environmental issues—which for Cisco are GHG and energy. Over the years, we accumulated several insights—some learned on our own and others suggested by stakeholders—that informed the creation of our new goals.  Below, I introduce our new goals and the thinking behind each one.

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