Last week I visited Milano, Brussels and Berlin in a quick trip through the EU. The trip was a mix of customer activities, government discussions and press interviews. Here's some random and unordered notes:
- I got to drive the Eco Rider scooter/bike thing that the German team has been driving around the country. It was lots of fun, and really captured people's imaginations. I'm big on gimmicky promotions, but the Eco Rider somehow transcended gimmickry and put the right kind of images in peoples minds.
- My sense is that Europe is 6 to 9 months farther along in "eco awareness" than in the US (California exempted - I think the EU and CA are about equal). Your average European is just more up to speed and thoughtful about the environment than your average American. That said, the Europeans aren't to the point where they'll do a project just for the environmental benefit, eco as ecology AND economics is just as true in Europe as elsewhere.
- The eco financing problem that I find rampant in the US is just as prevalent in Europe. People paying the energy bills are not the same as those making purchasing decisions. I'm now convinced this is a global problem that needs real attention.
- I kicked into high gear with the EU policy folks I met with in Brussels, as well as the press I met with in Berlin about the need for computer companies to publish accurate anticipated energy usage for their products. There's a lot of interest in importing Energy Star, but many people that they will get energy reporting as a result, and its not true. I know this isn't easy, and standards are still coming, but we're making good headway on this. I've really come to believe that having your vendor inform you of expected energy usage is Consumer Right #1 at this point in our history, and Energy Star just doesn't go far enough in this regard. I'm sure you'll hear more from me on this going forward, as I'm wound up about it.
- In Berlin I met with a large ISP and Sun customer, Strato AG, who is doing some awesome work. Step 1 was to move to Niagara servers to cut energy usage, and that's allowed them to get their power low enough to look at going for totally green power. Next step is upcoming T2 systems, which will hopefully give them room for significant growth within their current power envelope.
Overall a very busy and tiring trip, but also quite rewarding!