It has been clear to us from the beginning that our biggest opportunity to improve sustainability is by increasing the productivity and energy efficiency of our content delivery network, while decarbonizing the energy consumption.

Reduce Network Energy

Maximizing Server Efficiency and Productivity, and Decarbonize Energy Use

Akamai's network operations currently represent more than 90% of our overall environmental footprint in terms of energy consumption, carbon emissions and electronic waste. Our initiatives are focused on maximizing network efficiency and productivity, and decarbonizing its energy. To hold ourselves accountable, we have a commitment to annually reduce our network energy and GHG intensity relative to traffic 30% year-over-year, and by 2020, procure renewable energy for 50% of our global network operations.

Akamai Network Sustainability Performance

As a result of our efforts to innovate around network productivity and efficiency, our absolute energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions have decoupled from our network traffic growth, flattening even as our traffic continues to grow exponentially.

Decoupling Business Growth

Even more relevant is our success in decoupling our absolute energy and carbon environmental impacts from our business growth — that is, our network traffic. In 2018, we reached a major milestone. For the first time, our global network’s absolute energy consumption and carbon emissions dropped below peak levels. This exciting achievement reflects the early results of our Edge Compute server virtualization and renewable energy efforts. We expect this downward trend to accelerate as these initiatives ramp up.

Total Energy
Total Carbon
Peak Traffic
Annual energy and carbon intensity reduction target:
# of Servers
# of Countries
# of Networks

Drag the grey marker across the map to view YoY energy and carbon intensity reduction by Akamai.

Network Energy

Since 2009, continuous innovation in hardware, operations management, and code efficiency has resulted in a 95% reduction in both energy consumption and carbon emissions, relative to network traffic. We achieved these improvements despite a 40-fold increase in average traffic in the same time frame.

GHG Intensity
Energy Intensity
Normalized Peak Traffic

Drag the grey marker across the map to view YoY energy and carbon intensity reduction by Akamai.

Code Optimizations

  • Identifying and rewriting inefficient code to increase the capacity of our network without adding more servers
  • Implementing code enhancements and new infrastructure architecture to streamline intra-network data transfer
  • Improving power proportionality of servers, including minimizing CPU power consumption and fan speed during idle periods

Hardware and Infrastructure Optimizations

  • Deploying less expensive, custom-designed servers that maximize performance per watt
  • Virtualizing server development and SQA server environment
  • Virtualizing production server environment
  • Designing and operating highly energy-efficient data centers in select locations where we have large server deployments
  • Redesigning server rack architecture to maximize utilization of power

Process Optimizations

  • Improving server management, such as quickly identifying and decommissioning or repurposing disabled servers

Decarbonizing Our Energy

While we’ve been very successful in decoupling our business growth from energy use and carbon emission impacts, we will always consume energy, and our carbon remains tightly coupled with energy. So decarbonizing this energy is a critical step along our journey to mitigate our environmental impacts. This highlights the importance of procuring renewables to offset carbon-intensive, grid electricity. To achieve this, Akamai has committed to reducing our GHG emissions below 2015 levels by procuring renewable energy to cover 50% of our global network operations by 2020.

To date, Akamai has signed three virtual power purchase agreements in the U.S. Our share of the expected generation of the solar and wind farms is projected to represent 23% and 44% of Akamai’s global and U.S. network energy consumption in 2020, respectively. Two of the projects were a corporate-buyer aggregation collaboration with Apple, Etsy, and Swiss Re. We are also exploring renewable energy opportunities in Europe to cover our extensive data center operations there. You can learn more about our renewable energy targets, plans to reach 50%, and progress here.

Network Supply Chain Initiatives

Another major component of Akamai’s carbon footprint is the energy consumption from our third-party data center colocation providers that house Akamai content delivery servers. Ancillary services provided by these vendors, such as cooling and power redundancy, add significant power consumption on top of actual server power utilization, increasing total power consumption and carbon emissions. Furthermore, while energy efficiency is a key mechanism to decrease our carbon footprint, our network will always consume energy. Therefore, decarbonizing the electricity used by these colocation data centers is also an important focus. We are engaging with our colocation data center providers, both directly and as part of the BSR Future of Internet Power working group, to pursue increased energy efficiency and decarbonization of their data center energy. As a member of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance we are helping to influence utilities and policy makers to make it easier and more cost-effective to procure renewable energy. We’ve already had great success. In 2017, Akamai’s colocation data center supply chain procured renewable energy that equaled more than 10% of Akamai’s global network energy consumption.

In addition to these engagement activities around energy efficiency and renewable energy, Akamai annually conducts a sustainability survey of our colocation data centers, tracking KPIs such as Power Usage Effectivenessi, Carbon Usage Effectivenessi, Water Usage Effectivenessi, integration of renewable energy, and environmental sustainability management practices. We use these metrics to more accurately quantify Akamai’s network supply chain sustainability impacts and monitor the year-to-year progress of these facilities. We also compile and distribute an annual benchmark report to show our colocation partners their performance relative to their peers, and to positively influence them to adopt best practices and improve performance.

We are tracking the impact of these supplier outreach initiatives through the trending of the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE) metrics over time. PUE and CUE are metrics used to measure the energy and carbon efficiency of data centers, specifically. Technically, the PUE is the ratio of a data center’s total energy usage to the energy usage of the IT equipment, and the CUE is the ratio of a data center’s total GHG emissions to the emissions of the IT equipment. We have derived an "effective" PUE and CUE for our network by taking the aggregate values across our global network. Since 2009, our effective network PUE and CUE have decreased 22% and 15%, respectively.

Network Supply Chain Initiatives

iThese KPIs were developed as an industry standard by The Green Grid.