SAN JOSE, CA — A combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy and promotion of more environmentally friendly behavior will be used to cut eBay’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2012.

The e-commerce giant unveiled its first greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal this week in its most response to the Carbon Disclosure Project, a nonprofit GHG reporting registry that solicits climate-related information from the world’s largest companies. The goal translates to eliminating 17,850 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over the next three years, relative to a 2008 baseline.

“We will achieve this through a series of actions that conserve and streamline our energy use, leverage renewable sources of energy, and inspire behavior change among our global workforce in areas such as business travel and personal energy use,” eBay said in its 2009 CDP response. “These activities and behaviors, combined with our relatively low-impact business model, as well as a series of investments in high quality offsets, have allowed us to be a carbon neutral company since 2007.”

Total emissions grew 21 percent between 2007 and 2008, a period in which company revenue increased 9 percent. eBay’s largest source of emissions is the energy used in its data centers, the infrastructure and management of which comprises a key efficiency driver.

The company plans a complete data center refresh at each of its 11 domestic data centers, which will also enable eBay to process more transactions per watt. The company also plans to introduce new initiatives to increase the useful life of its hardware. 

Next year, eBay will open a new data center built to LEED Gold standards with top-of-the-line cooling and power management capabilities. The facility, to be located in South Jordan, Utah, will house more than a third of the company’s worldwide data infrastructure. 

It is also applying carbon reduction goals to its other facilities, procurement and employee travel. Specific projects include new travel policies, consolidating global office space, and investments in green power and fuel cell technology. The company expects to release information about its fuel cell strategy next year. It is also in the process of installing a new 100 kilowatt solar installation at its Denver, Colo., offices.

The company buys carbon offsets to balance its emissions impacts, including verified emissions reductions from wind, landfill gas, agricultural methane, forestry, and small hydro projects.

eBay, which has a global green team with more than 2,000 employees, created for its customers a gateway to environmentally and socially responsible products with its WorldofGood.com marketplace and banned ivory products on its main site. In March, the company joined Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy -- also known as BICEP -- to lobby for aggressive climate change policy in the U.S.

Photo CC-licensed by Flickr user Ryan Fanshaw Photography.