AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog

How AWS Partners Can Achieve Sustainability Goals with a Cloud Center of Excellence

By Ron Hayman, US Strategic Sales Leader, Customer Solutions Management – AWS
     Hyunjung Kim, Leader, Customer Solutions Management – AWS
     Sam You, Associate, Customer Solutions Management – AWS

Sustainability is a strategic priority for many organizations as CEOs work to transition their businesses to net-zero emissions. With a focus on sustainability, organizations are hiring single-threaded leaders with titles like Chief Sustainability Officer and evaluating the impact their business has on the planet across the entire value chain.

Sustainability goals can be driven by regulatory requirements or stakeholder activism, but sustainability also creates an opportunity for competitive positioning with customers. An Accenture report found that businesses focused on sustainability and digital transformation were 2.5x more likely to outperform their peers.

For AWS Partners specifically, what does a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) have to do with achieving your sustainability goals? A CCoE is a centralized, cross-functional group of business and technical leaders with the goal of driving business transformation.

CCoEs deliver value to the organization by developing governance frameworks and creating reusable content that allows development and infrastructure teams to speed up adoption, build secure environments, and optimize cost.

There’s an opportunity to incorporate sustainability metrics in business strategy and ensure there is alignment and participation within the CCoE from the single-threaded leader of sustainability. To achieve sustainability goals, CCoEs need to understand their business’s impact on the environment and identify opportunities to decarbonize their operations, minimize water use, create a circular economy, and have socially responsible employment and supply chain practices.

Enterprises that are moving to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to achieve sustainability goals expect the same initiative from partners they engage with. As such, it’s important for AWS Partners to thoughtfully consider how to transition their organizations to net-zero.

In this post, we’ll provide a mental framework to help AWS Partners formulate sustainability goals and share practical advice on how to achieve them using a Cloud Center of Excellence.

How Should Organizations Approach Sustainability?

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol organizes carbon emissions for corporations into three emission types:

  • Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions owned and controlled by the organization.
  • Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy.
  • Scope 3 emissions are remaining indirect emissions generated across the value chain and often include the transportation of people, goods, and energy.

Data center operations are an important area to inspect as businesses look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Your data center or cloud consumption will be considered a Scope 3 emission. The services you use determine the amount of emissions your organization will produce, so it’s important to select the right service for the use case and goals you’re trying to accomplish.

As the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy globally, Amazon is on a path to powering all operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025—five years ahead of our original target of 2030. Migrating to AWS can lower workload carbon footprint by 80% today and up to 96% once AWS is 100% powered by renewable energy.

451 Research report found AWS infrastructure in the U.S. to be 3.6x more energy efficient than the median surveyed enterprise data center. The same report showed that moving on-premises workloads to AWS can lower workload carbon footprint by 88% for median surveyed enterprise data centers, and 72% on average for the top 10% most efficient enterprises surveyed. Selecting regions near Amazon renewable energy projects and using regions where the grid has comparatively more renewable energy will also reduce your carbon footprint.

Sustainability is a shared responsibility between AWS and the customer. AWS is responsible for sustainability of the cloud, delivering efficient, shared infrastructure, water stewardship, and sourcing renewable power. Customers are responsible for sustainability in the cloud, understanding the impact of the services they use, quantifying the impact through the entire cloud work lifecycle, and applying design principles and best practices to reduce impact.

AWS Shared Responsibility Model Sustainability

Figure 1 – AWS Shared Responsibility Model Sustainability Pillar.

Cloud Center of Excellence for AWS Partners

Many AWS Partners establish a Cloud Center of Excellence as a first step in integrating sustainability goals into their organization. When thinking about their sustainability journey, it’s useful for CCoEs to break the effort into three major phases: Migrate, Optimize, and Transform.

The first phase is Migrate, and in this section we’ll discuss the considerations and benefits that come from migrating to AWS. The second phase is Optimize, and we’ll discuss ways you can further improve upon your sustainability goals with AWS by leveraging some of 240+ services provided by AWS. The Transform phase is the phase in which your organization uses the power of the cloud to identify and solve other sustainability opportunities in your business.

When building infrastructure, there are certain considerations an organization should make based on the location of users and/or customers and the industry in which they operate. Taking these factors into consideration, a company will make architectural decisions based on the needs outlined by the organization and represented by the CCoE.

Phase 1: Migrate

Migrating to AWS entails significant sustainability advantages, as AWS is committed to making the cloud the cleanest and most energy efficient way to run all of your infrastructure. In 2022, AWS announced a commitment to be water positive by 2030, returning more water to communities and the environment than it uses in its direct operations.

Water scarcity is a major global concern, with half of the world’s population projected to live in water-stressed areas by 2025, and Amazon is investing strategically to combat this rapidly growing challenge.

AWS is also investing heavily in highly energy-efficient custom chips. For general workloads, Graviton-powered instances deliver up to 40% better price performance over comparable x86-based Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, and use up to 60% less energy than comparable EC2 instances for the same performance.

For training large deep learning models, which includes large language models (LLMs), AWS Trainium-powered instances deliver up to 50% cost-to-train savings and energy-consumption reductions of up to 29% versus comparable instances. The latest-generation Graviton4 and Trainium2 chips were announced at re:Invent 2023, and are the most price-performant and energy-efficient AWS processors to-date.

Phase 2: Optimize 

The AWS Well-Architected Framework describes architectural best practices for designing and running workloads in the cloud, and is organized into six pillars. Sustainability is the newest pillar in the framework and provides recommendations for the customer’s responsibility to meet sustainability targets in the cloud.

When considering compute, it’s important to right-size infrastructure based on performance requirements and usage patterns. Elastic Load Balancing and autoscaling capabilities ensure infrastructure can scale in and scale out based on demand. Scaling infrastructure dynamically based on demand avoids over-provisioned capacity in your workload.

Another consideration is scheduling resources to shut down when they’re not in use. For event-driven processes, serverless options, including AWS Lambda and AWS Fargate, reduce consumption as the compute is only used when the function is being executed.

You can also consider using ARM-compatible container images or multi-architecture container images to migrate to Graviton-based instances from x86-based workloads.

Well Architected Framework Sustainability Pillar

Figure 2 – AWS Well-Architected Framework Sustainability Pillar.

Phase 3: Transform

Moving to AWS has a profound impact on your business’s sustainability efforts, but there are other opportunities to advance your sustainability efforts using cloud-enabled services. Amazon has several services to help you measure, report, and reduce carbon footprint.

Three services worth considering for your transformation include AWS IoT SiteWise Edge, AWS Data Exchange, and the AWS Carbon Footprint Tool.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices like Alexa and Ring cameras have brought benefits to our homes, and IoT devices using AWS IoT SiteWise Edge can unlock industrial data for sensors and equipment and monitor processes via local web applications. Connecting edge devices to the cloud allows you to audit sources of carbon emissions across your entire value chain in real-time with high granularity.

Coca-Cola İçecek (CCI) used AWS to transform its 26 bottling plants by building a digital twin. The digital twin allowed CCI to reduce energy consumption by 20% annually and save 9% on water while saving 34 days of production using AWS IoT SiteWise Edge.

Large, high-quality datasets are crucial for building custom sustainability applications. AWS Data Exchange is a third-party data marketplace where you can subscribe to or publish environmental, social and governance (ESG) data, including public, weather, air quality, and satellite imagery data. It also offers data APIs which streamlines the process of securely integrating that data into your applications.

The Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative accelerates sustainability research and innovation by providing public access to large sustainability datasets and cloud grants to those interested in using AWS technology to solve long-term sustainability challenges.

Measurement and regular reporting are important steps in identifying opportunities for transformation and reducing carbon emissions. The AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool allows you to track changes in emissions as you move workloads into the cloud and modernize those workloads in line with the Well-Architected Framework for Sustainability. The AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool provides a dashboard and overview of carbon emissions using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol standards for your AWS usage.

AWS Marketplace has software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions available that allow you to track and measure carbon emissions for your business. Being able to measure and report emissions is an important step towards your organization’s sustainability efforts.


In this post, we discussed how to quantify organizational carbon emissions and explored infrastructure considerations to reduce carbon footprint, as well as the many AWS resources that can help your business transition to net-zero. A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is a powerful, top-down approach to translate these learnings into organization-wide sustainability efforts.

With these efforts in place, your business can consider joining the 460 signatories who have signed The Climate Pledge and are working towards carbon neutrality by 2040.