As I was scrolling through the list of Newsweek’s top 500 greenest companies, there was one company that caught my eye in particular, NVIDIA (ranking #10). For some reason the company’s name sounded very familiar, and then it hit me! I realized that when I was in my videogame phase during my middle school days, the NVIDIA logo would always appear in the credits for many of my videogames. So the big question in my head was how does a videogame software company act environmentally friendly? It seems that there would be a very limited amount of room to improve one’s ecological footprint, but after some investigation I was proved wrong.

 First off, I was wrong in my claim that NVIDIA was a videogame software company. They tailor their products towards individuals who play videogames, but as far as the company goes, they themselves are responsible for the manufacturing of graphics processors. Essentially these small little pieces can be easily installed inside your computer to improve the visual display of your screen. That is pretty much a short way of summing up what the company does without getting into the really techy terminology.

I was very impressed to find a whole section in their Fiscal Year 2011 Citizenship Report dedicated purely to their environmental standpoint. The report outlines the company’s long term goals and how much of the set target has been attained. The company has three areas that they target: campuses, suppliers, and products. Much like Petrobras, NVIDIA has made it their objective to highlight the significance of being environmentally friendly to their suppliers as well as customers. NVIDIA has broken up Greenhouse Gas emission into three different scopes that can be improved upon. Scope 1 focuses on natural gas, chemicals in laboratories, and oil. Scope 2 includes electricity and scope 3 tracks the impact of business travel. Most companies would never go this far into examining the company’s ecological footprint, but I guess that’s what placed NVIDIA so high on Newsweek’s list.

In 2006, NVIDIA joined the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition which helps to “improve factory working condition in the areas of ethics, labor and working hours, environment, health and safety, and management systems”. The company works intensively with their suppliers to make sure that they are also abiding by this code. “All Chip Operations suppliers (that produce graphics processors) are ISO 14001 certified, which requires the supplier to have a waste management system, recycle raw materials and reduce packing materials”. That same year, NVIDIA joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders program that looked at ways of improving the climate-change strategies as part of their campus initiative. Just recently the company opened up a new office in Austin, Texas where many of these green features were implemented in the building. The company went as far as mandating that the food choices offered in the cafeteria be locally accessible to minimize the shipment fees.

Probably one of the coolest new improvements that NVIDIA has implemented in its product line is the Hybrid SLI graphics card. What differentiates this graphics card from the old models is that it is able to turn on only when a higher screen resolution is needed, thus the computer when the graphics card is used for pure leisure activities it is not utilized (with an approximate savings of $700 over five years in electricity fees with this new card).

I think NVIDIA helps to highlight the fact that any company can improve their ecological footprint. If small processors can be made in a way that reduces carbon emissions, then every company should be striving towards attaining such similar results. What made my search very easy was that NVIDIA was able to present all their data and goals right on the website, making it accessible for anyone. I tried using google scholar to see if better data could be attained, but then the articles that I was able to find become more technical, and harder to understand for the less tech savy person.


One response »

  1. Mike M says:

    I agree it is nice to see a reasonably large manufacturing company on this list, especially one that makes microelectronics since that process can generate harmful waste. While it is nice that NVIDIA provides information on their greening initiatives on their website, it is hard to judge exactly how successful their measures might be without seeing some data from an outside source. Still it is nice to see that NVIDIA is trying. NVIDIA can also see some economic gains by making their products greener. By making their graphics processor use less energy, they can help battery powered devices to last longer, which can make NVIDIA more successful at the same time as making them more environmentally friendly.

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