AOL is committed to conducting its business in ways that minimize its impact on the environment through a variety of initiatives.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
AOL's most significant energy consumption comes from the data centers which are home to the servers and switches that both host information and route messages globally. Recognizing this carbon footprint impact, AOL has made significant -- and award-winning -- strides in creating reliable, sustainable and energy-efficient data centers. Comparisons with external benchmarks have shown that AOL has a sustainable model for minimizing energy consumption in the data centers. The Uptime Institute's "Green IT" awards as noted below show that IT energy efficiency can enhance bottom-line profitability, while meaningfully reducing the overall corporate carbon footprint.
AOL has installed features in its buildings to automatically turn off lights, manage heating and air conditioning and provide other conservation measures, where possible. Fluorescent lights are used wherever appropriate and where the types are available, low-mercury fluorescent lights or LED lights are used. All the Dulles campus buildings (over 1/2 million square feet) have been certified to Energy Star Standards, a joint certification between the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency.
For years, AOL has participated in the EPA's "Energy Star" program which activates the low power "sleep" feature on computers and monitors. It is estimated that the activation of this feature on AOL computers prevents up to 30 tons of CO2 emissions annually. AOL also promotes this program to its users, saving members an average of $50 in energy costs per year.
AOL's telework program lets appropriate employees work from home or other remote locations, thus avoiding an employee commute trip. Through a variety of programs, AOL encourages employees to participate in carpooling or mass transit where possible, including discounted mass transit pass, shuttle buses to subway stations or ride-sharing programs to promote carpooling. Larger AOL locations include bike racks and showers to facilitate biking to work.
AOL has a number of diesel engines for the emergency-power generators at the distributed Data Centers, and has a program of voluntarily limiting operation of these engines during certain "Code Orange" or "Code Red" (high pollution "ozone action" days). The AOL program defers any elective operation of our diesel engines to a day other than the "ozone action" days.
- Energy Conservation
- Telework/Carpool/Mass Transit
- Voluntary Air Permit (Run Hour Limitations)
New construction at AOL, whether owned or leased, is designed around the principles set out by LEED. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is an accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. The design encompasses five areas of environmental issues: energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, conservation of materials and resources, and site planning and maintenance. See www.usgbc.org for more information on "green buildings."
AOL's second childcare center, which opened in 2007, achieved LEED Gold status. It was the first LEED certified childcare building in the state of Virginia, and the first LEED Gold Building certified in Loudoun County, Va.
AOL's new headquarters offices in New York City have also achieved LEED Gold certification. MapQuest buildings in Pennsylvania were built to green design standards and include renewable materials (bamboo flooring, recycled content countertops), low volatile paints, carpets, and furniture, and energy management systems.
AOL seeks to reduce the company's potable water-use footprint where practical. For example, in new construction or major renovations, AOL has installed low-flow plumbing fixtures. Where the company is responsible for landscaping, AOL works toward lower maintenance practices, such as native plantings and perennials. In new buildings, native/adaptive plantings are included in the design, so no irrigation is needed for the landscaped areas.
With respect to those areas that are watered, all irrigation is done with non-treated well water. Most of the sustainability metrics associated with water use are around potable water, since drinking water typically requires both chemical management / chlorination and energy to treat, process and distribute the water. Locally derived well water requires less chemical treatment and energy to distribute.
AOL recycles where possible. Paper, glass, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, cell phones, batteries, CDs and toner cartridges are the main items recycled, with select locations recycling other items such as shipping pallets. Different locations have different procedures and may be subject to landlord rules, so recycling practices may differ across locations. AOL continues to recycle the AOL CDs that are either unused or returned from vendors and consumers.
AOL's computer systems are also recycled, with used computer equipment donated to non-profit organizations, sold to employees, or recycled if not reusable.
The non-recyclable office trash from the AOL facility in Dulles goes to a waste-to-energy facility, so the trash is burned to generate electricity, rather than being landfilled.
AOL is increasingly "greening" its sourcing procedures. AOL purchases recycled paper for office use and 100% recycled paper for kitchen and restroom facilities where appropriate. Other office products, such as carpet, office furnishings, paint and the like are evaluated for their environmental attributes. AOL asks cleaning contractors to use "green" products on site, and, at present, over 1 million square feet of office space is cleaned with Green Seal certified products / processes. Additionally, AOL encourages vendors to transition to paperless invoice / payment systems.
AOL has a variety of sites dedicated to all things related to green living, both in the U.S. and the UK. They include www.GreenDaily.com, home.aol.com/green and green.autoblog.com. These sites are intended to give busy consumers simple solutions to live green, with up-to-the-minute green news, tips, product reviews and solutions.
In January 2007, MapQuest launched a gas prices portal that includes locations of alternative fuel sources -- such as hydrogen, biodiesel, LNG and CNG (liquefied or compressed natural gas), E-85 ethanol, and electric car -- outlets by zip code. That year, MapQuest also sponsored the "VeggieMobile" – a car operated on vegetable oil, and driven cross-country by sportswriter Joe Connor to raise awareness of alternative fuels.
Awards, Honors & Sponsorships
- 2011 - AOL won the Uptime Institutes's Green Enterprise IT Award in the category of "Date Center Innovation" for its Cloud Computing initiative. Cloud Computing saves AOL almost $1 MM yearly, and reduces our carbon footprint by 8,440 metric tons. The Uptime Institute is a data center think tank for global companies.
- 2010 - AOL was named a first place winner for the Platinum Green Business Award, Large Business Category at the Loudoun Green Business Challenge, an event held for businesses with operations in Loudoun County, Va.
- 2009 - For World Environment Day, AOL in Europe donated ad space to The Prince's Rainforest Project
- 2009 - AOL was listed as one of the United States' "Global Green 100" companies
- 2009 - AOL won the Uptime Institute's Green Enterprise IT Award in the category of "Data Center Energy Efficiency Improvement: IT"
- 2008 - AOL won the Uptime Institute's Green Enterprise IT Award in the category of "Facilities Site Physical Infrastructure (power and cooling) Overhead - Implementation"
- 2007 - VeggieMobile Tour Sponsored by MapQuest; for more information, visit http://www.greenpowersportstour.com
- 2007 - AOL's Columbus offices nominated and honored for a Central Ohio "Emerald" award for their efforts in recycling, and was honored at an event May 9, 2007
- 2004 & 2005 - "Most Participating Employees" in the D.C. area for "Ride your Bike to Work Day" Event
- 2003 - EPA & Department of Energy "Energy Star" Award