Rackspace embraces an environmental mission – or not

Rackspace has gone green!  Right? We looked closely and here’s what we found.

In their words:

Working with a partner like NativeEnergy, Rackspace is diligently working toward the goal of being a greener company. We know it’s not something that can happen overnight, but by addressing the problem and educating our customers and employees, we are taking the first step toward a cleaner tomorrow.

Here is what we found:
From the inside: Rackspace works with employees to minimize their environmental impact.  They host a “Green Day” with local vendors as well.

For customers: Rackspace worked with NativeEnergy to develop a carbon footprint calculator for consumers to use.  See the calculator here.  Looking closely at the calculator, it looks more like a conversion tool for roping in new customers.

The nitty gritty: What about their nine datacenters?  Rackspace has made no claim that they have offset their non-renewable energy usage.  They redirect the attention to a few important but small changes like using compost on their lawns.  Seriously?  This is far from a “green web host”.

Although we’re not discounting the efforts they have made, Rackspace has fallen short of our recommendation.  We thought it would be only fair to ask for their input.  We contacted Rackspace through their online chat tool, here is the full, unedited conversation.

Chat InformationWelcome to Rackspace. We are connecting you to our next available operator.
Chat InformationMy name is Justin V. and I am a Live assistant. How may I help you today?
you: Hi, I’m reading about Rackspaces “green” efforts…
you: I see lots of programs, but have you offset your energy usage with renewable energy certicates?
Justin V.: that’s a great question. let me get you the contact to our team that will be able to provide those details for you.
Justin V.: are you looking for a new hosting provider at this time or is this for a new project/
Justin V.: green initiative
you: I am reviewing Rackspace’s “green” program for a blog I run.
Justin V.: oh ok, the link provide has a lot of great info. about our Green Initiatives
you: Yea, I read the green initiative page. I found some great programs, but no mention of offsetting the massive amounts of energy your 9 datacenters use.

Justin V.: our PR contact will be able to follow up with this for you and better address that topic.
Justin V.: For all media inquiries, please contact Rachel Ferry at ….
Justin V.: (email removed)
you: Ok, thank you.

The verdict: Rackspace has been around a long time and probably offers quality hosting services. If you’re looking for a truly green web host, however, you best look somewhere else.

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6 comments

  1. Hi Tom,
    I’ve been asking them the same thing and was advised to contact Decoa Parker. When asked, I received the response below. To me this seems like they DO offset their emission. As they are one of the big guys, I think this is somewhat important. What’s your take on this?

    Hi Maarten,

    — Excerpt from email aug 18, 2009 —

    Oscar, from our Online Chat Team, informed me that he had a conversation with you this weekend. He forwarded me your question pertaining to whether or not Rackspace offset’s its emissions. To answer your question, yes, we do offset our emissions. We also work with a company named Native Energy to offer our customers tools to help offset their carbon emissions and reduce their impact on global warming. If you’re curious about your own emissions, we’ve worked with Native Energy to co-develop a calculator that you can find by going here: http://www.rackspace.com/information/events/green/nativeenergy.php

    In addition, you’ll find more information about our efforts by visiting the following pages:

    http://www.rackspace.com/information/events/green/index.php
    http://www.nativeenergy.com/Rackspace

    If you have any other questions, please feel free to let me know.

    Decoa Parker

  2. Noble effort Tom, but you can’t tell me you really expected any sort of decent answers from a guy who’s probably just working off a script in a Ukrainian call center did you? What would be interesting are the answers to your questions from the PR rep. Looking forward to that article.

  3. Hi Tom. I’ve seen this ‘green intiative’ from a number of web hosting companies who all make use of ‘green energy’ to power their servers. Fantastic news eh?! I’m led to believe that the energy comes from wind farms and other renewable sources. One host I can think of off the top of my head is hostpapa.ca – they popped up when I was looking for a new hosting company, whether they are any good or not is unknown by me (I didn’t choose them in the end!)

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