Today, I attended the opening of Cisco’s new solar energy facility in Blythe, California. This facility, built by NRG Energy, Inc., will generate renewable power for use at our San Jose headquarters. Though we have already installed approximately 2.7 megawatts of solar at our sites in Texas, Massachusetts, and India over the past few years, this project is much larger (20 MW), is our first ever off-site power purchase agreement, and is our first-ever renewable energy project in the state of California.

Over its 20-year life, the system will help us achieve our goals of advancing environmentally sustainable growth in a connected world. It will produce approximately 60,000 megawatt-hours of clean, renewable solar power each year, which will reduce Cisco’s greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 18,000 metric tonnes! These energy savings will help reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 40% while allowing Cisco to use renewable energy for at least 25% of our power needs year-over-year.

The project also reduces the number of renewable energy certificates we buy as a company, which brings more price certainty to our energy budget and will save us money over the life of the system. The additional 20 megawatts of renewable energy capacity also benefits the local community, bringing jobs and economic stimulus to Blythe.

As a whole, the project strengthens our reputation as a sustainability leader in the industry and shows our stakeholders that we are committed to advancing environmentally sustainable growth for ourselves, our partners, and our customers.

And as exciting as the Blythe II announcement is, our commitment to sustainability extends well beyond this project. At Cisco, we know that environmentally-friendly business practices can reduce business risk, improve reputation, and drive market opportunities. That’s why we implement projects and programs across our company that reduce our environmental footprint while making a positive impact on our bottom line. For example,

  • We are in the last year of our four-year EnergyOps program, which when completed later this summer will have implemented over 460 energy-efficiency projects across Cisco’s global real estate portfolio. These projects make our operations more energy efficient, lower our energy costs and also help us achieve our sustainability goals.
  • We are in the process of converting our office spaces to the Cisco Connected Workplace. These layouts can accommodate 30 percent more employees than a traditional office layout, reducing the amount of space and land we need, therefore reducing the environmental impact of our real estate portfolio. We expect to have reduced our facility footprint requirements by more than six million square feet by FY18.
  • To address our supply chain, we have worked with our suppliers over the years to help them report their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions to CDP. All of our key manufacturing partners and logistics providers, as well as 92 percent of key component suppliers, have now set goals and report to CDP.
  • Last year we also announced a new goal to avoid one million metric tonnes of GhG emissions from our supply chain operations by the year 2020.
  • We continue to improve power consumption in our products, from plug to port, for each new generation of Cisco’s products. We do this by optimizing input voltage, improving power conversion, and increasing the energy efficiency of key components.
  • Cisco has been a Global Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) circular economy program since 2011 and is developing a circular economy strategy with four main elements: product return, go-to-market models, IoT and cloud solutions, and product design.
  • We also offer many solutions that help our customers be more sustainable. Our EnergyWise and JouleX solutions help companies manage their energy in commercial and residential buildings. Our collaboration tools like Cisco TelePresence, WebEx, Jabber, and Spark make it easier work with teams all across the globe, significantly reducing business travel. We also have cloud and data center solutions such as Hosted Collaboration Solutions, Unified Computing System, and our Nexus products that improve data center network utilization and servers as well as minimize energy consumption.

These are just a few of the ways our sustainability program at Cisco extends into each part of our organization. This solar project is one more example of an innovative solution that will positively impact people, society and the planet. In the words of our CEO Chuck Robbins, we are committed to “making a difference in the lives of people around the world,” and this solar facility does just that.

Congratulations to the Cisco and NRG team that worked together to make this project happen. I look forward to working on and learning about different ways to reduce Cisco’s environmental footprint.

To read more about Cisco’s broader sustainability strategy, download our latest CSR report.



Catherine Paquette

Business Analyst

Global Energy Management and Sustainability (GEMS)