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Greenpeace: Time for cloud companies to come clean

Data centers from cloud companies, such as Apple and Google, are getting cleaner but Greenpeace pushes for more transparency on energy use and sources.

Facebook designed its Oregon data center with several efficiency features, including cooling with misters and air rather than chillers.

Greenpeace is pushing harder for cloud-computing companies to cut back on coal and tap into cleaner sources of electricity.

The environmental watchdog group today released its latest rankings of companies, including Google, Apple, and Amazon, that run giant data centers to serve up Web pages and services. Greenpeace now has a "clean energy index" to measure how much electricity from renewable sources is used by these companies.

Greenpeace has been pressuring cloud companies for years to improve the efficiency of their data centers, advocate for clean-energy policies, and disclose energy usage.

This year, Yahoo, despite its dire financial troubles, boasts the highest clean-energy index because of its efficient data center designs and the hydropower available for its upstate New York location. Dell, Facebook, and Google also get high marks for their efficiency and energy mix.

Big-name brands Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Twitter meanwhile, score poorly for lack of information or choosing sites dominated by coal-powered electricity.

It's unlikely that consumers choose their Web services provider based on their energy usage, but some cloud-computing companies are actively measuring their energy consumption and installing renewable-energy systems.

Apple's planned North Carolina data center, for example, will feature solar panels and what is expected to be the largest corporate fuel cell installation.