Yahoo! Jumps! on! the! Bandwagon!

”Jerry Yang and I just announced at our quarterly employee all-hands that Yahoo! has committed to going carbon neutral this year.”

Apparently they are also committed to going profit neutral.

“All in all, there didn’t seem to be a lot to get excited about,” said Derek Brown, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald. “There was no tangible proof that Panama is working well or better than expected. There was reference to it, but no concrete evidence in the numbers.”

I don’t have any issue at all with a company deciding that green is good, but that decision should also be based on factors that go well beyond the feel good nature of the initiative and into the unsavory topic of whether it’s good for shareholders as well.

To be quite blunt about it, Yahoo! should be more focused on improving their bottom line than decreasing their carbon footprint. If they want to invest in datacenters that generate their own power and dissipate their thermal loads through some mechanism other than HVAC, then I’m all for it. However before they commit to that investment there should be some analysis to determine what the payback period and if it’s like Al Gore’s solar panels then I’m not interested, speaking as a Yahoo! shareholder.

Given the lack of specificity about what exactly they are doing, it’s hard to form much of an opinion about it but I suspect this is more about planting trees somewhere rather than decreasing energy consumption.

BTW, in case anyone gets the urge to comment, or more accurately “scold me”, for being a global warming “denier” (gee, not a loaded term there is it?) let me give you some hard facts that impacted my personal pocket book. Over the last 2 years at our home I went through a rather costly process to:

  • replace all of the windows (1959 vintage) and double insulated the exterior walls (on the ground floor of the southern exposure side of the house we actually had a second wall built to double the thickness of the wall… this not only gave us a seismic benefit but also allowed us to double the thickness of the insulation).
  • I did have a solar assessment done but the payback period based on my usage was too long to justify the investment (if we had a pool I suspect this would be a no-brainer).
  • I also installed an irrigation system that triggers not off a timer but off ground moisture readings.
  • Installed wireless theromstats to adjust heating based off the rooms we are in rather than a fixed location where the thermostat was installed.
  • I replaced all of our exterior lighting with with low voltage (and low wattage as well) systems.
  • I also replaced landscaping with soil that was more “composty” and therefore better retained water, and plant species that were more appropriate for our climate. I still have lawn areas but decreased the overall square footage by increasing stone patio areas.
  • Replaced a lot of internal lights with CFLs, but I was unsatisfied with options for can (recessed) lighting so we still have a lot of that (one room has 18 recessed lights on two circuits so I’m hoping we will see some CFL innovations that accommodate dimmers).
  • Replaced 2 vehicles with 2007 models that are ULEV rated and get better mileage than the ones they replaced. I refuse to not enjoy driving so these are still rated as “gas guzzlers” but they get better mileage and have better emissions ratings than what we had before. It’s a compromise that I can live with.
  • Lastly, for meetings in San Francsicso I have started to take BART. I still have to drive up to one of the BART stations but the bulk of emissions that are created by vehicles come from stop-and-go rush hour or city traffic. By not taking my car into the City I figure I’m having a bigger impact than the distances would suggest because of this factor.

The result of the above measures has been that my electricity consumption at home is 20% less than the same period a year ago. I know this because my utility bill gives my consumption for “the same period last year”. My natural gas usage only reduced by about 7% (I think we had a colder winter than last year). My water consumption has also been reduced and my monthly gasoline bills are lower as well. In short, I didn’t plant trees anywhere but on my own property… I actually reduced my energy consumption instead.

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