Earlier this year, the environmental activist group Greenpeace challenged the eco-friendliness of several major companies and their cloud computing datacenters. While the Greenpeace report wasn't entirely negative, it did raise some concerns about the energy usage of the cloud. There are, however, steps businesses can take to implement environmentally friendly solutions.

The first step to green data centers is planning, according to a recent ZDnet blog post. The IT department and company leaders need to work together to identify the best solutions, and the planning process should also dictate a standard configuration for all servers. The blog post emphasizes the importance of looking at the "total cost of ownership" as businesses consider new technology. This means they need to look beyond the initial cost of procurement and consider energy costs as well.

Environmental advocacy groups may also want to look at the long-term benefits cloud solutions can provide. According to a recent AZcleantech article, cloud computing is helping architects build greener buildings. The new solution gives architects the ability to measure the effectiveness of their designs in a specific environment, allowing them to better plan for energy efficiency in the building design stage.