New Relic’s journey to net-zero in less than two years

"Wrapping your head around climate doesn’t need to be an overwhelming, years-long process."

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New Relic's mission is to empower the world’s engineers with a data-driven approach to creating great software so they can build better digital experiences. New Relic serves tens of thousands of engaged customers and is the most widely used observability platform in the world. The company was founded in 2008, went public in 2014, and now has 2,300+ employees across the globe.

Last week, New Relic announced a net zero 2030 goal and publicly committed to set a near-term Science-Based Target. But two years ago, New Relic was just at the beginning of their climate journey.

Challenge: Expanding climate knowledge

When New Relic was first building out its ESG portfolio, understanding its carbon footprint was a top priority at the Board and executive level. There was mounting interest from stakeholders, investors and employees to understand their emissions, but nobody had the direct experience to tackle the problem. New Relic identified an internal lead and kicked off the hunt for a partner to help fast track a data-driven climate plan.

We knew that the end game was to build a climate strategy, but we couldn’t build a climate strategy without knowing our impacts.

Simone Wren,
Director, Business Operations + Environmental, Social, Governance Practice

Solution: Finding the right data-driven partner

New Relic knew that measuring its carbon footprint would be critical to any future action, and wanted to be hands-on in its approach. As a data company itself, New Relic was attracted to a platform that provided access to dashboards and insights about its emissions over the course of the year versus a one-time annual snapshot. “Watershed gives us a view into our footprint data so we can understand and investigate all year long, and continue to make progress on it,” says Simone. “Repeatedly hiring consultants each year to conduct long and intense measurements wasn’t as appealing.”

Erin Dieterich, New Relic’s Senior Director, Social Impact and ESG, says that “measuring our footprint using Watershed was as easy as promised.” But while having an accurate baseline footprint is essential for setting and making progress on goals, the pandemic made it challenging to make assumptions about what a “normal” baseline would be. With Watershed, New Relic was able to retroactively benchmark three years of emissions data so it could understand historical changes as it reported emissions data for the first time.

Having multiple years of data helped us bring more granular insights into building out our climate goals. Now we can say: okay, travel last year was a little abnormal because of the pandemic so that’s not a great baseline for us, but let’s look at the year before.

Erin Dieterich,
Senior Director, Social Impact and ESG

Result: Numbers leaders can count on

With years of footprint data on hand and guidance from Watershed’s team of experts, New Relic felt prepared to create a longer-term strategy. “Our overall footprint helped us determine what our strategy would be,” says Simone. “Knowing the numbers for each subcategory for our emissions helped us focus our energy in places where it will count. For example, we’re prioritizing emissions from our supply chain and thinking less about employee commuting since our employees are mostly remote.”

New Relic’s C-suite can use Watershed to ensure the company is driving towards real climate impact. Erin reflects, “Before, it was easy to get stuck in a loop of hypothetical situations about our company’s growth and how that might impact targets.” Now, they can make those decisions using real data.

Watershed’s Reductions Module showed us our projected emissions and planned reductions, alongside our forecasted business growth and a forecast of carbon credit prices. Armed with this concrete data, our C-suite leaders were able to align on our net zero by 2030 plan.

Erin Dieterich,
Senior Director, Social Impact and ESG

Up Next: Setting an example for peer action

Just as New Relic determined its supply chain should be a key area of climate focus, the team is seeing this same focus from potential customers. “RFPs used to ask you to check a box if you have a climate program or not,” says Erin. “Now, more and more, we are being asked for more comprehensive information related to our footprint and plan for reduction.” With a climate plan now in place, New Relic is well-positioned to win more business.

New Relic’s team is approaching the future with excitement, and an eagerness to develop in-house expertise that it can use to spur climate action in other companies. “Our Watershed team understands climate science, follows trends, and points us to research that helps us make decisions based on our unique business,” Erin shares. “While we’re just at the beginning, our team is very committed to this learning journey where we’re getting smarter each year and paying it forward.”

Wrapping your head around climate doesn’t need to be an overwhelming, years-long process. Our example demonstrates that in less than two years you can have data-driven targets and start taking action. Climate change is too critical for us to not each consider how we push change forward for each of our organizations. Incremental efforts based on data are a great first step for any company to take.

Erin Dieterich,
Senior Director, Social Impact and ESG