The following is an excerpt from the 2020 CSR Impact Report, published on December 8, 2020.
The Internet might seem like a busy place today. But the next few years will bring massive traffic growth in the form of more users; faster speeds, given 5G adoption; and greater bandwidth needs due to complex applications like augmented and virtual reality. This increased bandwidth will mean increased energy consumption, both by networking devices themselves and for the cooling systems required to manage the heat they generate.
To meet consumer demands for greater technological capabilities, as well as to comply with regulations and meet their own sustainability goals, Cisco’s customers are asking for more energy-efficient products. We’re responding by keeping efficiency considerations in mind as we develop products through a variety of models, with the majority of our products developed internally by our engineering teams. The remaining products are developed in a partnership with our vendors, using either original design manufacturing, where we submit product specifications for vendors to execute; joint development manufacturing, in which we collaborate on product design; or original equipment manufacturing, in which vendors provide us with off-the-shelf products or components development models.
We use lifecycle assessments (LCAs) to estimate the GHG emissions and environmental impacts of our products through their entire lifecycles. Through LCAs, we know that the use phase of our products consumes the largest proportion of energy—and is responsible for the most GHG emissions. In fact, product use is not only the most emissions-intensive lifecycle phase, but also the greatest contributor to Cisco’s overall GHG emissions footprint. Learn more in the ETR. In addition to the emissions associated with our products, we consider the environmental and social impacts associated with their materials and packaging. Read more about these topics in Circular Economy and Supply Chain Excellence.
Cisco has a broad portfolio of products and solutions. Because our products remain in use for a relatively long time—sometimes a decade or more—moving the needle on this issue will take time. We continue to research and invest in engineering innovations to improve product efficiency. Here’s an overview of Cisco’s products:
Addressing product energy consumption
To improve the energy efficiency of our products, Cisco is investing in areas where we can have the greatest impact. These investments consider the entire system in which a product operates, from the design of individual components to the power distribution and cooling systems of the facility in which a product is located. To improve the efficiency of individual products, we are working to develop more efficient thermal systems, reduce power loss in our highspeed interconnect designs and offer higher-efficiency power supplies. These energy efficiency improvements are part of Cisco’s Circular Design Principles, in which we work to incorporate environmental design principles into each of our products.
The environment a product operates in can also have an impact on how much energy is consumed. That’s why we are working with customers to design their facilities to optimize product energy consumption and improve their power usage effectiveness (PUE). This includes developing power supplies with wide-ranging AC and DC inputs and developing integrated methods of cooling to reduce operating temperatures at the facility.
To learn more about the progress we’re making to power a more inclusive future through CSR, visit our Cisco ESG Reporting Hub, where you can read our CSR Impact Report.