I’ve always been a stargazer, fascinated and captivated with the science of our endless night skies. After saying goodnight to my kids a few weeks back, I ran outside to capture the Super Flower Blood Moon of 2022. This was the longest total lunar eclipse in 33 years. It was magnificent.

I’m not alone in my fascination with the moon. The word “moonshot” – used to describe projects with big hairy audacious goals – comes from our zeal to get to the moon and back. This zeal was memorably expressed by John F. Kennedy’s inspirational words in 1962: “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” And in 2008, Al Gore set a moonshot on climate change – a challenge to produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun, and other renewable energy sources within 10 years.

Last year, Cisco set its “moonshot” goal: To reach net zero emissions by 2040. To achieve this, we need to accelerate our product and solution roadmaps across the company to help our customers achieve their sustainability goals. This is why we formed a new office within the engineering organization a few months back.

Just as revolutionary engineering was at the heart of making the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions possible, engineering is integral to achieving a sustainable future.

Cisco’s mission

In partnership with our Corporate Affairs, Supply Chain, and Compliance teams, our engineering leaders are ready to tackle the increasing regulations and requirements for energy efficiency and emission metrics. For this moonshot, it’s all hands-on deck!

Together, we will be going after some of the most difficult sustainability problems, including reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency categorizes GHG emissions by three “scopes”. The first two are directly within an organization’s control and operations. Scope 3 is described as the “result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly impacts in its value chain.”

For Cisco, the most important Scope 3 emissions come from the products we build and sell to customers. Product use accounts for the largest part of Cisco’s overall carbon footprint – currently at 73% of our total GHG emissions. Increasing the energy efficiency of our products and solutions and decarbonizing the grid are our top priorities – for Cisco and for our customers.

There is no magic bullet or easy button to solve this problem. It will take dedication, imagination, and an all-of-the-above approach to problem solving. This includes:

  • Developing a single, common roadmap to embed circularity and materiality at the product design level without sacrificing the level of innovation and utility they provide.
  • Sustained investment in research and development to leapfrog current obstacles and take our sustainability efforts to new levels.
  • Working closely with our massive partner ecosystem – supply chain, development partners, manufacturers, etc. – so that we can optimize resource efficiency in our manufacturing and logistics, in accordance with our goals for a circular economy.

 Sustainability at Cisco Live! US 2022

We are a week away from Cisco Live!, our most important customer event. The agenda is packed with many sustainability-themed sessions that you can search for and browse in the online catalog. Here are two sessions highlighting our engineering efforts around sustainability:

  • How Cisco Solutions Can Help Your Journey to Net Zero (INTGEN-1200)
  • An interview with COP President Alok Sharma on the role technology can play delivering on sustainability commitments.

In future blogs, look for a progress report on our engineering sustainability focus, including smart buildings, sustainable data centers and offers that will reduce GHG emissions. Please also look for sustainability-themed blogs from different Cisco organizations who build compute, cloud, collaboration, and networking solutions. Until then, keep dreaming about those moonshots. With creative thinking and brilliant engineering, some dreams do come true.


Additional resources

  • A YouTube video featuring a conversation I had with the IBM Turbonomic team on strategies and solutions to accelerate sustainable IT.



Denise Lee

Vice President

Engineering Sustainability Office