Dell commits to Carbon-Neutral operations

Dell plans to be a carbon-neutral operation by the end of 2008, chairman and CEO Michael Dell said Sept. 26. The ambitious plan follows the computer maker's June announcement that it planned to be the "greenest technology company on the planet."

ADVERTISEMENT To be carbon neutral, a company takes inventory of its total GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and implements strategies to reduce and eliminate the emissions. Dell's commitment to carbon neutrality will primarily involve emissions impacts created by electricity use and facility heating and cooling. The company will also offset the emissions impact of employee business travel.

"Never before in the history of business have we seen such a critical need to build a worldwide community dedicated to improving the environment," Dell said during a policy forum organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

To meet the carbon-neutral goal, Dell said the Round Rock, Texas, company would pursue an aggressive strategy of driving additional energy efficiencies, maximizing purchases of renewable power and offsetting remaining impacts. Dell added the initiative would extend to the company's partners and vendors.

"Leadership starts at home, which is why we are going carbon-neutral. But this should only be the beginning of building long-term partnerships with customers, stakeholders and suppliers of all sizes to team up and make a difference for the earth we all share," he said.

According to a company statement, Dell will require its logistics suppliers to use biodiesel fuel sources for an unnamed portion of their energy needs within a year. A pilot program at Dell's Penang, Malaysia, facility evaluated emissions from buses and delivery vehicles. Repairs to supplier vehicles with unacceptable levels of emissions were required within 10 days.

Dell is also working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a member of the EPA's Climate Leaders Program on an inventory of the company's GHG emissions from U.S. operations.

Michael Dell also challenged his fellow technology companies to join the company in a long-term, carbon-neutral commitment. "When it comes to energy, there are no competitors, only partners," he said.

Dell said the one of the company's highest priorities is to invest in energy from renewable sources, such as wind, where available and economically feasible. According to a company statement, approximately 10 percent of the energy needs of the company's Round Rock operations come from renewable sources.

To offset the emissions impact of the remaining energy that Dell uses and cannot source from renewable sources, the company will work with stakeholders to ensure offsets are invested in projects that can be monitored and verified. Projects will be evaluated for their long-term viability and assurance that the carbon savings are real.

"What's particularly impressive is the company's focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy as primary mechanisms for addressing climate change," Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working to address global sustainability challenges, said in a statement.

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