Sustainability work at Netlify
When I started at Netlify, I was already doing local climate work volunteering at a climate group in my city. I thought that there was no reason I couldn't bring some of that work to Netlify. So, I started by pulling together a collection of companies that were already doing public sustainability initiatives. I figured that if we were going to go the corporate social responsibility route, then we needed to show other companies that were doing the same thing and show both what they were doing and how it impacted their business. I looked at companies like Shopify and Stripe to see what they were doing, and what the business impact had been, and what the public perception was.
I also worked to get a list of community requests from users who were asking for more transparency and accountability. Then I reached out to people within the company to gather and compile their thoughts around this. From there I started talking to our CEO about how important this work was. I drafted a potential first pass plan that we could do to start gaining momentum. This plan turned out to be the wrong first step, but I did start to gather the decision makers into regular meetings so we could start deciding on a path forward around this time, the company publicly committed to looking at our sustainability options.
One of the biggest concerns around sustainability initiatives right now is the lack of regulation and oversight. It’s a little like the wild west in that anyone can kind of do or say anything they want and it’s not a well monitored industry.
That means if we’re going to commit to these programs, which we should, then we need to do our own due diligence in talking to experts, and working with organizations that specialize in this and have a reputation for impact. So, we decided on a multi-phase plan:
- Internally we will use open source tooling to look at our kwh of energy spent on our service providers. This is called Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
- We will take this data and come up with an estimate of our total service energy
- We will work with an external agency to review and vet these numbers to provide 3rd party verification.
- That agency will help us look at our Scope 3 emissions, based on existing data
- We will work with the agency to find mitigation and change strategies where we can either reduce our energy use, get energy from cleaner sources and/or put money toward old forest conservation (link) as a type of offset.
- Communicate to our customers what our usage is, our mitigation strategies, and choices we are making to be a more sustainable option.
I found that the easiest way to communicate and convince leadership about what needed to be done next was a one page plan that explained what our immediate next step was, where we were today, and how our next step fit in with our overall vision. For communicating with the coordination team and the rest of the company we had:
- Running planning doc at meetings
- Stakeholder doc
- Summarized public facing doc on what we were doing on a regular basis
- Open GitHub issue to track ideas and questions from the rest of the company
When I left Netlify we were in the process of phase 2 and starting talks for a contract with an external agency.