A blimp sponsored by Greenpeace flies over the Facebook headquarters campus in Palo Alto, Calif. congratulating Apple, Facebook and Google for their progress using renewable energy in their data centers in 2014. (Photo: George Nikitin, Greenpeace)

Blimp Spreads Encouragement, Shame in Silicon Valley Flyover

Greenpeace’s campaign for renewably-powered Internet took to the skies over Silicon Valley Thursday, conducting a flyover of major tech company headquarters with a blimp festooned with messages highlighting the environmental group’s new report on energy sourcing and sustainability.

The Greenpeace thermal airship bore several messages – one praising Facebook and Google for their use of renewable energy, and one challenging four other tech companies that it cited for their continued use of coal-derived power. The “Who’s Next to Go Green?” side bore the Twitter hashtag #clickclean below the logos of Amazon, Twitter, Netflix and Pinterest, four companies Greenpeace says are relying upon “polluting energy” in their data center operations.

The 135-foot long, 41-foot diameter thermal airship took off from the Palo Alto airport at 8:00 am and flew over the 101 highway rush hour commute on its way to Facebook’s campus, then over to Google’s campus, before returning to the airport to land after the 1 hour and 10 minute flight. Another Bay Area flight is planned for next week, depending on weather conditions.

Previous Greenpeace campaigns have called out Facebook and Apple for their data center energy sourcing. The group has clearly shifted its focus to Amazon Web Services, who Greenpeace says used just 15 percent renewable energy in their data centers. Netflix and Pinterest both host all of their data with Amazon Web Services, and this “have tethered their fast-growing services to polluting sources of energy,” Greenpeace said.

The Greenpeace blimp hovers over the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif. Thursday morning. The sign on the airship challenges Amazon Web Services and its customers to make greater use of renewable energy in their data centers. (Photo: George Nikitin, Greenpeace)

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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