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When discussing climate change and financial institutions, a lot of attention is focused on tracking and redirecting the flow of capital to loans and investments with smaller carbon footprints. One way that these organizations can make an impact on their own carbon emissions is by shifting as much of their computing capacity as possible to the cloud.

Data processing is the largest part of a bank’s carbon footprint

As heavy users of data and calculations to inform business decisions, it should not be a surprise that data and computing resources can represent more than half of a bank’s direct carbon emissions. Since reducing data usage is not a feasible option, the best way to reduce this carbon footprint is to use the most efficient data processing operations available—the cloud.

Cloud computing is leading the way on carbon efficiency

By its nature, cloud computing is going to be more efficient than a traditional data center. Cloud providers have been leaders in virtualization, provisioning resources on demand instead of being always on. Usage is aggregated across different industries and time zones, flattening the peaks and valleys of demand so that they are not sitting idle most of the time.

Cloud computing providers also have a strong economic incentive to be power-efficient. Energy makes up 70 to 80 percent of the operating costs of a typical data center, so the profit of a cloud provider is basically the spread between their input power prices and what they can charge for compute. With cooling representing around 40 percent of a data center’s energy consumption, a lot of effort has been put into designing more efficient cooling systems, laying out servers to better distribute the heat produced, and locating facilities in colder areas or even under water.

These providers have also been working towards being carbon neutral, not just more efficient. Google states that they have been carbon neutral for over a decade, and are matching 100 percent of their global electricity consumption with renewable energy. Microsoft says that is has been carbon neutral since 2012, running 100 percent on renewables since 2014, and are 98 percent more energy efficient than a traditional data center. Amazon claims to have an 88 percent lower carbon footprint than traditional computing and to be the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. So no matter which one you choose, moving to cloud computing will reduce your organization’s carbon footprint.

Being cloud agnostic means you can choose

Shifting all of your existing workloads to the cloud may be more energy efficient, but can still consume a large amount of power. The key is to also minimize workloads, spinning up compute only when you need it and quickly releasing it when each task is completed. Transitioning to this operating model is made easier with cloud-native services that have been designed from the ground up to take advantage of the cloud’s unique capabilities. And a cloud-agnostic service mitigates fears of vendor lock-in and enables you to migrate your data and compute needs to the most optimal cloud provider for your business.

Many major banks, asset managers, and other financial institutions are making commitments and progress towards reducing their carbon footprint and disclosing the carbon impacts of their operations. As a cloud-native and cloud-agnostic service, Beacon Platform makes it easy for companies to move to the cloud and substantially reduce their carbon footprint. Our powerful collection of data warehouse tools, quant libraries, and development frameworks are just a bonus!


  1.  Google 2019 Environmental Web Report 
  2.  Azure sustainability –Sustainable technologies
  3. Sustainability in the Cloud