Co-author Marc Thomas, Sales Engineer & Solutions Consultant at Splunk.
Simple questions can be overwhelming and not knowing the answer after a mouse click is no longer an option:
- What is the carbon footprint of your data centers?
- How do you monitor emission hotspots in real-time?
- Are you on track with your emission reduction goals?
Sustainability is top of mind for organizations across all verticals and Splunk can help with the power of data. Our Sustainability Toolkit based on the Splunk platform equips organizations with capabilities to gain deep insights into their carbon footprint and as such empowers them to take the necessary actions towards their carbon neutrality goals.
The New Sustainability Imperatives and the Role of Digitalization
A recent McKinsey report has identified sustainability as one of the top five priorities for CEOs. Many organizations such as Bosch have taken ambitious steps in this direction because they believe it is crucial - beyond greenwashing and PR. In fact, Bosch is the world's first industrial group to have CO2 neutral production at its 400 locations since February 2020.
In the very near future, however, doing so will be fundamental because consumers, investors and regulators will see it as a requirement. In addition, it will be an important source of long-term competitive advantage, taking into account the exploding price of CO2 emissions.
CO2 emissions have become a significant cost factor for organizations.
Sustainability metrics are usually measured through the lens of “carbon footprint” which is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the production, use and end-of-life of a product, a service or company operations. It includes mostly carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, including methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming according to The New York Times. Collectively, these various greenhouse gas emission sources are known as CO2 equivalents and are generally measured in metric tonnes - referred to as MTCO2e.
To underline this subject with concrete numbers, the average annual carbon footprint of a person in the United States is 16 MTCO2e whereas globally, this number is closer to 4 MTCO2e. In terms of industries, the manufacturing and energy sectors must accept their heavy responsibility. Both in the United States and the European Union, manufacturing accounts for almost a quarter of direct carbon emissions. In Europe alone, this translates into an annual total of 775M MTCO2e (2019) according to the European Environment Agency.
The good news is that the digitalization of manufacturing has the highest potential to contribute to CO2 reduction. Taking the example of the German manufacturing industry, a study by Bitkom, conducted by Accenture concluded that with accelerated digitalization, emission cuts in manufacturing would represent more than 50% of total CO2 reduction efforts. As such it is of no surprise that Hannover Messe 2022, the world's most important event for industrial technology, focuses on digitalization and sustainability.
The same pattern applies to data centers: A Science report concludes that despite data centers consuming about 1% of global electricity, cloud computing could be a smart lever to reduce electricity due to underlying efficiencies.
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol)
An important industry standard to measure the carbon footprint is the Greenhouse Gas Protocol segmenting the emissions into direct and indirect ones, Scope 1-3.
- More than 9 out of 10 Fortune 500 companies reporting to CDP use GHG Protocol
- GHG Protocol supplies the world's most widely used greenhouse gas accounting standards
Today, most major companies publicly report their emissions to CDP, a global non-profit that runs the world’s leading environmental disclosure platform. The various emissions from multiple sources are grouped into the following scopes.
- Scope 1: Direct emissions from owned or operated assets, e.g. manufacturing operations
- Scope 2: Indirect emissions from purchased energy, e.g. electricity
- Scope 3: All other indirect emissions that are the consequence of the activities of the company, but occur from sources not owned or controlled by the company, e.g. supply or value chain
Whereas measuring Scope 3 emissions is a major undertaking, it is the most important one as for many organizations Scope 3 emissions account for more than 70 percent of their carbon footprint according to GHG Protocol.
The Sustainability Toolkit for Splunk
The Sustainability Toolkit for Splunk equips organizations with tools to build a holistic view and gain deep insights into their carbon footprint to align with new sustainability imperatives. It includes a set of visualizations using Splunk Dashboard Studio, an intuitive dashboard-building experience to easily communicate even your most complex data stories.
The power of the Sustainability Toolkit for Splunk unfolds in two ways:
Big Picture Visualization and Tracking of CO2 Footprint
On the one hand, it provides big picture visualizations via an executive dashboard that tracks carbon emission reductions towards company goals. It shows the reduction goal attainment against the yearly target as well as against the company’s individual net-zero reduction goal in the future, e.g. in 2030.
Real-time Deep-Dive into Emission Hot Spots
On the other hand, it empowers organizations to deep-dive into emission hot spots in real-time and take the required action based on data. Such hot spots would be sub-segments of Scope 1-3 of the GHG Protocol. In the example dashboard above these would be direct emissions from heat originating e.g. from the combustion of fuels, purchased electricity (Scope 2) and emissions from running data centers (Scope 3).
As a first step, organizations can use readily available third-party calculations such as the sector-specific calculation tools from the GHG Protocol and APIs such as the Carbon Intensity which provides an indicative trend of regional carbon intensity (gCO2/kWh) of the electricity system in Great Britain 96+ hours ahead of real-time.
The Sustainability Toolkit for Splunk also comes up with out-of-the-box calculations to measure the carbon footprint of data centers. As such, it may contribute to a data-driven decision on whether to move to the cloud from an emission reduction perspective. Readily available integrations with major cloud service providers to gain visibility into the carbon footprint of the cloud usage help to elevate discussions, too. For a start, these highlighted calculations, APIs and integrations are pre-configured with the Sustainability Toolkit.
Obviously, each organization is different and as such the individual emission hot spots with their underlying data sources vary significantly. By ingesting and correlating disparate data sources across cloud, hybrid and on-premises environments Splunk equips organizations with the flexibility to carve out individual hot spots and monitor them in real-time.
As an organization matures on its sustainability journey it can add additional data sources and establish a comprehensive suite of tools for more granular insights. That way, the Sustainability Toolkit for Splunk ensures future-proofness to comply with the ever-changing sustainability regulations.
Unlike existing “product carbon footprint” calculators available on the market, the Sustainability Toolkit for Splunk is therefore explicitly a management tool to equip executives with holistic visibility of the company’s carbon footprint and as such empowers them to take the necessary individual decisions towards their individual carbon neutrality goals.
Needless to say, the Sustainability Toolkit for Splunk is compatible with Splunk Enterprise (8.2 onwards) and also our SaaS solution, Splunk Enterprise Cloud. It is available free of charge via an app on Splunkbase.
Key Value for Organizations
- Develop effective sustainability strategies and reduce your carbon footprint through enhanced visibility and real-time insights into your sources of emissions
- Identify opportunities to reduce emissions and costs through investigative tools for deep dives into emission hot spots and trends
- Consolidate tools and improve your teams' productivity through automated data capture and correlation from multiple data sources
- Improve senior leadership engagement through advanced visualization tools to easily create visually-compelling dashboards
- Demonstrate commitment to the sustainability topic with modern data analytics, which can increase employee morale and loyalty
- Enhance shareholders’, investors’ and customers' trust whilst maintaining brand perception through accurate, reliable, and transparent reporting
- Fulfill compliance demands from consumers, investors and regulators
- Improve branding as an attractive employer
- Increase competitive advantage
It doesn’t need predictive analytics to claim that the sustainability story for organizations is just about to unfold. In a world where data provides clarity, elevates discussion and accelerates progress the Sustainability Toolkit for Splunk provides the much-needed visibility in the unchartered waters of the carbon footprint KPIs.
Obviously, the Sustainability Toolkit for Splunk will evolve as well, taking into account future requirements. So stay tuned!
Ready to track your carbon footprint with Splunk? Get in touch now!
And if you want to educate yourself a little further, we got you covered as well. Check out the below resources:
- Blog Reducing the Carbon Footprint of the Manufacturing Industry with the Power of Data
- Live Webinar on May 18, 2022 Data as a Green Accelerator
- On-demand webinar with a demo from our customer FLSmidth showing their own Splunk CO2 footprint dashboard What’s on a Manufacturer’s Mind? Carbon Footprint Reduction, Cyber Security, Fraud
- Press Release Splunk Announces Commitment to Net Zero by 2050
- Splunk Global Impact Report 2021