AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Happy Earth Day! Spotlight on Nonprofits Dedicated to Helping the Environment

Happy Earth Day! In addition to the environmental benefits associated with running applications in the cloud, AWS has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint. As of the end of 2016, we had achieved our goal of 40% renewable energy, and recently awarded ACORE’s Corporate Innovation and Industry Leadership Award in recognition of Amazon’s commitment to renewable energy.

In addition, AWS provides infrastructure technology to nonprofits around the world whose mission is to help our environment.  Whether it is protecting nature for the benefit of all, promoting sustainability in the building and construction industry, or conserving our oceans, nonprofits should be able to focus their resources on their important work, instead of running their technology infrastructure.

By using AWS, nonprofits can remain mission-focused and concentrate on helping save our world. Previously, we shared stories of nonprofits who use the AWS Cloud to help others. Shifting gears from humanitarian causes to environmental causes, below are four nonprofits dedicated to helping the environment.

Ocean Conservancy:  Climate change and other human impacts have created unprecedented threats to the health of the ocean.  Recent changes, like the collapse of the Great Barrier Reef, indicate tremendous risks to ocean systems, with profound implications for all life.

Ocean Conservancy has partnered with University of Oxford, AWS, and expert advisors from industry and academia (Andreesen Horowitz, Goldman Sachs, climate and marine scientists) to accelerate understanding of ocean risks: what are the most serious scenarios of ocean change, how do we see them coming, and what do we need to do to prevent them?  Using methods that have been effective in improving predictions for the economy and data networks, OSIRIS (Ocean Systems Interactions, Risks, Instabilities and Synergies) leverages AWS High Performance Computing to perform tens of thousands simulations of ocean systems under various conditions, enabling, for the first time, rapid understanding of the combined effects of stressors on the ocean and early indicators of major changes.

“The ocean is at grave risk, creating an imperative to act in a short period of time,” says Andreas Merkl, President of Ocean Conservancy.  “Given the ocean’s vast complexity, traditional research approaches may be too slow for the pace of change we’re experiencing. AWS enables us to use methods that were not possible before to dramatically accelerate our understanding of risks to the ocean and drive action to reduce those risks.”

Conservation International: By partnering and collaborating with scientists, policy makers, and companies like AWS, Conservation International is able to build a healthier, more prosperous, and more productive planet.  Conservation International uses the AWS Cloud, specifically Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), for their Resilience Atlas. The Resilience Atlas is designed to build an understanding of the extent and severity of stresses and disasters affecting rural livelihoods, production systems, and ecosystems and how different types of assets, including natural and financial capital as well as social networks, affect their ability to thrive and even transform in the face of adversity. For the first time, data from satellites, ground-based biophysical measurements, and household surveys – from more than 60 of the best available datasets totaling over 12 terabytes – have been integrated, analyzed and made available in an easy-to-use map interface.

“The open access to this data gives a better understanding of important issues like climate change, flooding, and droughts. In the past, there was no integrated picture of these pieces of data and our connected world demands a system perspective, because decisions about poverty alleviation are not independent from decisions about conservation and what kind of agriculture to invest in,” said Sandy Andelman, Chief Scientist at Conservation International.

U.S. Green Building Council: The U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) promotes sustainability for the built environment, most notably through LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the world’s most widely used green building rating system. USGBC’s web platform serves as the organization’s conduit to communication with the outside world. More than 2 million square feet of space are LEED certified every day in 164 countries and territories, which means maximum uptime, security, and superior performance are integral to the LEED program and critical to the USGBC’s continuing success. The core platform that powers LEED is built on AWS, with some components hosted on-premises.

Jour de la Terre: Jour de la Terre is a Canadian environmental nonprofit that is always on the hunt for creative projects to reduce environmental impacts. Its employees frequently overcome novel challenges in communications, customer relations, logistics, and dispatching. After researching options with trusted advisors who are familiar with the IT needs of small nonprofit organizations, Jour de la Terre chose to shift its IT infrastructure to AWS. AWS data centers in Canada will draw from a regional electricity grid that is 99 percent powered by hydropower.

“As an environmental organization that makes heavy use of IT solutions, we want the impact of our IT infrastructure to be as small as possible, and the first step is simply measuring what that impact is,” says Director General Pierre Lussier. “Are we coding in a low-impact way? Are our servers using energy as efficiently as possible? AWS helps us answer questions about the environmental impact of our IT infrastructure that we never could have answered before.”

Watch this video and learn more about how AWS can help you make the world a better place through technology.