A recent announcement from Datapipe points to a critical consideration for IT professionals considering making a jump to the cloud: What are the environmental implications, positive or negative—can cloud operations be more sustainable?

Datapipe, a data center operator and IT service provider based in New Jersey, announced that all of its U.S. data centers are now powered by 100 percent renewable energy. The company’s facility in San Jose, for example, just converted to running operations on renewably sourced electricity.

The company cited EPA statistics that said its green power purchase of nearly 56 million kWh of renewably sourced electricity is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 7,000 passenger vehicles per year, or the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 6,000 average American homes annually.

That in and of itself should be a draw for IT customers for which sustainability is part of a larger plan. But the effort can extend beyond just hosting and data center selection to all IT operations: A recent white paper from Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy cited 30 to 90 percent energy and emissions reductions for companies that moved their operations to the cloud:

Although many organizations may be able to address some of these factors in their own datacenters to decrease energy use and emissions, due to economies of scale, providers of large, public cloud infrastructure are best positioned to help reduce the environmental impact of IT through efficiency and scale.

A migration to cloud computing can be effective for IT operations seeking greater security, more flexibility and better efficiency. As they ponder the move, they should take environmental impact and sustainability into consideration as well.