Why this is important
As a global company, we recognize that we have a responsibility to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. We aim to reduce and mitigate our negative environmental impacts and look for opportunities to benefit the communities where we live and work.
We understand that to enjoy a healthy economy that fosters human potential, we need to sustain a healthy planet as a foundation for our economy. Our approach to environmental stewardship focuses on the impacts that are most material to our business as a cloud-software company. These include our carbon footprint, investments in renewable energy, reducing and responsibly disposing of our e-waste, and engaging with our employees to maximize their collective impact on how we operate.
Our priorities surrounding our environmental performance relate directly to our operating model as a cloud-application provider. We are not a manufacturer and our supply chain is relatively simple. Our business involves people, software, office facilities, and data centers. Because of this operating model, our priorities reflect the material impacts of each of these aspects of our business. Please refer to our Materiality Analysis where we describe our process and rationale for identifying material aspects of sustainability at Workday.
Our focus has been to reduce our carbon footprint and invest in renewable energy programs to reduce our contribution to climate change. We also aim to responsibly dispose of 100 percent of our electronic waste across our operations. Lastly, we engage with our employees through our global Green Teams program. This effort helps to maximize employees’ collective impact on how we operate, and provides them with tools to lighten their environmental footprint outside the workplace.
- Operate as a 100 Percent Green Power Purchaser, offsetting all non-renewable energy usage in our offices and data centers by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Verified Emission Reductions (VERs).
- Responsibly dispose of 100 percent of our electronic waste.
- Establish Green Teams in each of our largest offices to provide a platform for engagement. Empower employees to introduce meaningful practices at Workday that will reduce our negative environmental impact.
Actions and results
Workday’s energy consumption
The primary form of energy that Workday purchases is electricity, which is consumed in our data centers and our offices worldwide. Below is a summary of Workday’s estimated indirect electricity consumption by primary source for our reporting period.
Note: Detailed Emissions and Energy data are provided here.
Methodology used to measure energy consumption
Estimating datacenter and office energy consumption is a challenge, particularly because Workday doesn’t own or operate its offices or datacenter facilities. We estimated our total energy consumption using several methods.
Workday primarily leases, rather than owns, office facilities. This means we don’t have a complete picture of the electricity or fuel use for our space in each office facility.
When facilities and property managers itemize electricity costs and usage, we are able to quantify it in a straightforward manner. This is the case for our largest office footprint at our global headquarters in Pleasanton, California, where we span two corporate office campuses and is also the case for our European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. Both locations represent the largest and most material office-facility footprint for our company.
Where we aren’t able to quantify electricity use directly, we estimate a reasonable value-per-square-footage based on other Workday offices. This aligns with the GHG Protocol’s “Generic building space data method.”
Our data centers are co-location facilities shared with other businesses. We don’t receive a detailed breakdown of electricity cost or use from our providers.
We have worked with our datacenter providers to use either a monthly power-usage report or a calculation based on the power drawn in our server racks at certain points in time, which is then extrapolated for a given month.
Lastly, we factor the energy mix of the regional grid of the electricity provider where the datacenter resides (the amount of renewables versus the amount and types of fossil fuels and resulting emissions factors). We also obtain the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) for each datacenter to understand the total energy attributable to Workday’s use. We don’t have operational control for our data centers because they are co-location facilities, so factoring in the PUE is considered Scope 3 and the resulting electricity usage is not included in our indirect energy consumption for our Scope 2 emissions.
Investing in renewable energy
As a cloud-application provider, our energy consumption and resulting carbon footprint is arguably our largest environmental impact. No matter how energy efficient our leased data centers and office facilities are, we still consume the bulk of our electricity from local power grids. We know that most of this energy comes from non-renewable sources. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that in 2013, only about 10 percent of all energy in the U.S. is from renewable sources.
Workday is committed to powering our business using clean renewable energy. However, procuring renewable energy can be a challenge when our office facilities and data centers are leased and not owned. It isn’t possible to install solar panels on rooftops or invest in utility-scale power-generation projects to generate the renewable energy needed to power our business as we operate in leased offices in buildings of various sizes, typically a few floors or a portion of a floor in a larger commercial office building, as well as multiple co-location datacenter providers.
Therefore, in order to support the development of renewable energy Workday offsets 100 percent of our non-renewable electricity use in our office buildings and data centers every year by procuring Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). We partner with Renewable Choice to purchase an estimate for the year upfront as a baseline investment in clean energy. At the end of the year, we calculate our actual consumption to purchase a true-up REC to cover 100 percent of the previous year’s consumption. Starting in FY15, we also began to invest in Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs, also known as carbon offsets) to offset our Scope 1 (natural gas) emissions.
Workday’s commitment to clean energy has been recognized by the EPA through its Green Power Partnership program. Workday has achieved 100 Percent Green Power Purchaser status, which we have maintained every year since 2008. In addition, Workday has consistently been listed in the EPA’s Top 30 Tech & Telecom list, which recognizes the largest green power users among technology and telecommunications partners (see January 2014 and January 2015).
Workday’s carbon footprint
Since our 2010 baseline measurement, Workday has tracked our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from purchased electricity (Scope 2). The most significant emissions source has been indirect energy consumption in our office facilities and data centers. In our current reporting period, for the first time, we have data available that allows us to estimate our Scope 3 emissions from business travel. The data available is for U.S. business travel (both air and rental car). We have extrapolated our overall global spend on business travel and expenses for air travel and rental cars to arrive at a reasonable estimate for our global operations. Workday uses the methodologies described by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to perform our inventory.
Note: Detailed Emissions and Energy data are provided here.
As Workday’s business expands, with resulting increases in customers, applications, employees, and facilities, it is only logical to expect that our GHG emissions will also grow even with our efficient multi-tenant cloud architecture. To help us manage and minimize our overall emissions, we use intensity metrics that include total emissions per employee. For the first time, we have calculated total emissions per million dollars of revenue as an intensity metric. Regardless of our intensity metric, Workday purchases RECs and VERs to offset 100 percent of our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions resulting from our data centers and office-facility energy consumption.
The cloud is the greener choice
Modern, efficient architecture
Workday’s highly efficient multi-tenant cloud architecture helps customers reduce business costs and carbon footprints at the same time. Although Workday does not own or operate our data centers (using co-location providers instead), we evaluate Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), as well as energy mix of the local grid in our data center selection criteria. Workday’s Sustainability Manager works closely with our infrastructure team to ensure that we consider energy efficiency and carbon emissions during our data center selection process.
Workday’s architecture helps reduce overall power consumption, as we implement elastic computing where the use of resources varies depending on workload. This is a core aspect of modern cloud-computing architectures. Instead of running many servers all the time to handle peak loads, which consumes energy even while idle, resources can be dynamically provisioned and be shut down after use. Workday implements these concepts for services such as payroll processing in our compute grid, elastic integration processing, and other load-based scenarios.
We also optimize our resources by investing in virtualization technologies, where hardware resources can be shared by multiple services as if they were different physical servers. This approach is more resource-efficient and energy-efficient. Workday uses virtualization across our platform wherever it does not negatively affect system performance, security, or stability.
CDP Study shows cloud computing promotes sustainability
A recent CDP study reviewed 11 global companies, including Workday customer Aviva. The study concluded that moving to the cloud while decommissioning a companies’ own servers and data centers is sustainable economically and environmentally. By moving to cloud-computing solutions, companies gain from the lower energy costs of shared computing, while simultaneously reducing total global carbon emissions.
- Cloud-computing solutions avoid millions of metric tons of carbon emissions
- Collective financial benefits from cloud computing run in the billions
- Cloud computing delivers a positive net present value (NPV)
- Cloud computing brings business-process-efficiency savings
Internal use of IT systems is considered material to the business operations and total carbon-emissions footprint of many companies. Moving to cloud applications such as Workday can save both money and carbon emissions. This creates value beyond the environmental impacts, benefitting corporate stakeholders and the bottom line.
No-Landfill e-waste policy
As a technology company offering cloud applications to our customers, Workday’s most prominent and material waste stream is electronic equipment. This includes two primary streams of electronic equipment.
- Servers, network equipment, and other infrastructure used in our data centers to provide applications to our customers
- Computers and peripherals provided to our employees to conduct their daily work
Our goal is simple: We aim to responsibly dispose of 100 percent of our IT equipment. To do this, we implemented an Electronics Disposition Policy in the beginning of 2013. This policy covers all retired, excess, and obsolete electronics generated by Workday’s global operations and services. It applies to both our data centers that provide our cloud applications and our internal IT operations.
We have partnered with a global electronics-disposition partner that meets our requirements for operating under ISO 14001 certification, as well as the strong e-Stewards certification (or a comparable local standard). Data security is always paramount, as all drives are wiped and destroyed while certificates of destruction are retained.
The business case for responsibly disposing of electronic waste is clear: Workday netted almost $249,000 from the inception of the program through FY15. By responsibly recycling and selling equipment for re-use, we are reducing our environmental impact while recovering value from obsolete IT equipment.
It’s a win-win for Workday and the environment, preventing hazardous waste from entering the waste stream via landfill or export. When e-waste is exported to developing countries, it is often incinerated under unsafe conditions to extract precious metals for recycling. For more information on electronics waste in the U.S., refer to the EPA’s “Electronics Waste Management Through 2009” analysis.
Engaging our employees
In 2014, we took the next step as part of our commitment to sustainability: We hired our first dedicated full-time sustainability manager. This position reports to our new VP of global impact and president of the Workday Foundation. Our Global Impact team oversees our Giving & Doing programs that focus on employee philanthropy and volunteerism, sustainability programs that focus on environmental sustainability, and our Workday Foundation.
One of the first initiatives of our new sustainability manager was to re-launch our Green Team program. We expanded our single Green Team, based out of our Pleasanton headquarters, to a global network of teams across 13 of our largest offices. We created a Green Team Local Leader program, where passionate volunteer champions lead their local Green Teams, inspiring employees to get involved and help implement meaningful environmental solutions across Workday’s operations.
Green Teams focus on implementing company-wide sustainability initiatives locally. They also have the latitude to work on the programs that are most material to their local offices. Teams take on issues like energy conservation, increased recycling and composting, and volunteer initiatives with local environmentally focused non-profits in their community.
We can’t measure the aggregate paper savings from moving to the cloud and using Workday. But we have heard from many customers that they are indeed saving paper by using our modern cloud-based applications.
McKee Foods insists that managers no longer have to complete paperwork for transfers, promotions, and pay changes, which are all processed automatically using Workday instead of using paper-based systems. This saves money on paper and helps with productivity gains across the organization.
Life Time Fitness wanted to move “away from a paper environment” where they needed “about 55 sheets of paper just to bring on an employee.” In an industry with a young workforce where employee turnover is high (although lower than others in the industry) and where many employees are hired temporarily or seasonally, this adds up fast. Life Time Fitness’ HR manager calculated that about 2.3 million sheets of paper could be eliminated annually by going to a paperless HR system.
Bike to Workday
Each year Workday cycling enthusiasts participate in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Bike to Work Day. In 2013 and 2014, we held our annual “Bike to Workday” events at our Pleasanton headquarters. Our cycling team encouraged co-workers to leave their cars at home and pedal to work instead. In 2014, over 40 riders participated.
After the ride, Workday senior executives serve breakfast to the hungry cyclists.