AWS Public Sector Blog

Mission: Meeting environmental sustainability goals

birds eye view of forest evergreen trees; Photo by John O'Nolan on Unsplash

From renewable energy projects around the globe to reducing water usage in data centers to the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI), improving environmental sustainability is possible with the cloud. By using the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, organizations can achieve both their missions and their environmental sustainability goals.

At AWS, we are committed to running our business in the most environmentally friendly way possible. In November 2014, we shared our long-term commitment to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for our global AWS infrastructure footprint. Four years later, in 2018, we exceeded 50 percent renewable energy usage for the year. With a mix of wind farms and solar farms in Australia, China, Spain, Sweden, UK and US, AWS is committed to achieving 100 percent renewable energy sources to power our infrastructure.

We run our infrastructure in the greenest way possible, which can help pass on energy savings to customers. Whether an organization is migrating from on-premises data centers to the cloud, digitizing and distributing content to reduce paper waste, or using machine learning to identify opportunities to reduce waste, organizations around the globe can use the AWS Cloud to help get closer to achieving their sustainability goals—all while advancing their core missions.

Read on to hear from AWS experts on why it is greener in the cloud as well as our customers on how the cloud has reduced their carbon footprint, paper usage, and waste.

Reducing your carbon footprint with enterprise migrations

By migrating enterprise workloads to AWS, organizations can reduce their IT carbon footprints by upwards of 88 percent for the median surveyed US enterprise data center and 72 percent for the top 10 percent most efficient enterprises surveyed, according to a 451 Research report published in October 2019.

The reduction in IT carbon footprints after migrating can be attributed to the latest server technology and energy efficient server platforms used in AWS Availability Zones and Regions.

To learn more, listen to the AWS Fix This podcast episode featuring an interview with Nat Sahlstrom, director of AWS energy strategy.

Going digital: Reducing paper waste

Reducing paper consumption by using digital files and cloud-based file sharing can bring operational, financial, and environmental benefits for organizations. To help reduce paper waste, optimize time, costs, and increase environmental sustainability in the public sector, 1Doc created a solution built on AWS to digitize paper-based processes. In 2017 Softplan, an AWS Partner Network (APN) ISV Partner, acquired 1Doc and became the main software-as-a-solution (SaaS) platform for Softplan’s local government customers.

1Doc’s SaaS web-based communication platform—also named 1Doc—provides service and document management for public agencies. The platform helps simplify processes for public sector customers so that agencies can meet the needs of the population quickly and efficiently.

Using 1Doc, departments and municipalities can connect directly to citizens and taxpayers to resolve day-to-day demands quickly. The 1Doc platform integrates internal communications, citizen services, and document management. 1Doc eliminates the paper from these processes, generating savings, preserving the environment, and speeding up the procedures.

The solution was built using a variety of services from AWS including: Amazon Aurora, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Elasticsearch Service, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), Amazon ElastiCache for Redis, and AWS CodePipeline, AWS CodeDeploy, AWS CodeBuild, and Amazon Elastic Container Registry (Amazon ECR).

Figure 1 – 1Doc architecture

Figure 1 – 1Doc architecture

The 1Doc solution was used for the AjuInteliGENTE project for the city of Aracaju in Brazil. The city had an objective to innovate and improve the efficiency of its ability to deliver services to its population. Switching from paper-based processes to digital processes saves the city financial and human resources, provides access to information for the entire population, and helps preserve the environment. Aracaju City Hall estimates that 150 trees and more than 11.5 million liters of water will be saved per month by the city after implementing 1Doc’s solution.

“We will have a significant reduction in ‘invisible costs’ such as reams of paper, fuel, vehicles, and servers that, many times, were used to deliver documents between agencies and the sector of the municipal administration,” said Edvaldo Nogueira, mayor of Aracaju.

In the first four months of use, the project saved over 250,000 Brazilian Reais, which was previously spent on paper. With the digitization of the municipality’s public management—opening and consultation administrative requirements, citizen services like Ombudsman, and the transparency portal—it is estimated that their savings will exceed 190,000 Brazilian Reais each month. In terms of sheets of paper, this means more than three million pieces of paper are no longer printed.

There are already more than 1,000 internal and external services available to the Aracajuan people—thousands of types of demands that can be opened from anywhere, at any time of the day, without the need for physical paper. Read more on the Portuguese AWS Blog.

Using machine learning to reduce waste

According to the United States Census Bureau, more than 3.5 million people work as truck drivers as of June 2019, making truck driving one of the most common jobs in America. And trucking is an $800 billion industry.

Convoy Inc. (Convoy), started in 2015, has a mission: “Transport the world with endless capacity and zero waste.” They describe themselves as a digital freight network, using modern technology—like machine learning and the cloud—to connect truckers with goods that need to be delivered. Part of their goal of reaching “zero waste” includes reducing the number of empty miles trucks drive each day. Currently, approximately 35 percent of all miles driven by trucks are “empty miles,” which means they are not actively carrying goods to be delivered. This results in 72 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

Using machine learning on AWS with services like Amazon SageMaker, Convoy is able to connect empty trucks with their next load to drive greater efficiency, reduce empty miles, and increase the trucking industry’s sustainability.

Listen to the AWS Fix This podcast episode to learn more, featuring interviews with Aaron Terrazas, director of economic research at Convoy, and Jennifer Wong, head of sustainability marketing at Convoy.

Read more about sustainability on the AWS Public Sector Blog. Learn more about sustainability at Amazon, including our Climate Pledge, and more about sustainability at AWS.

Check out other stories by Teresa Carlson.