Innovating toward greater sustainability – Earth Day 2014

This week marks the 44th anniversary of Earth Day: a good time to celebrate the environmental efforts underway in so many parts of Microsoft and to continue to challenge ourselves to take further strides on this journey. Below are just a few of the many things that are happening around the company, and as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently highlighted in the Business Roundtable’s 2014 sustainability report:

At Microsoft, we believe technology has tremendous potential to address environmental challenges and attain a clean energy future. We seek to serve as a model in our commitment to environmental sustainability by delivering on our carbon neutrality commitment and uncovering new ways technology can help us better understand our planet.”

Over the past several years, Microsoft has led the way in developing next-generation datacenter designs that dramatically boost energy efficiency and cut water used for cooling by up to 95 percent. Now our datacenter teams are seeking to transform the energy supply chain toward radically greater efficiency and sustainability. The team is piloting an off-the-grid datacenter fueled with waste methane from a sewage treatment plant, breaking old paradigms of powering data centers by incorporating fuel cells directly into server racks, and has invested in a long term power project which is enabling a 110 MW Wind Farm to be built in Texas.

Our Carbon Neutral program, with the first-of-its-kind internal carbon fee, has been recognized as pioneering by business and political leaders around the world for its integration of the environmental impact of carbon into business decisions. The funds generated from the fee have allowed us to invest in more renewable energy, greater efficiency and offset projects which reach nearly 3 million people. These projects, such as biodiversity projects in Madagascar and Indonesia and efficient cook stove projects in Mongolia are not only reducing GHG emissions, but they are also advancing global citizenship by improving health, protecting ecosystems and providing income and employment to local communities. Our investments in green energy earned us recognition as the second largest green power purchaser in the United States.

Together with our partners, we are using the power of our cloud and devices to enable governments and businesses a deeper understanding of the environmental and energy challenges they face. For instance, our work to optimize building energy consumption on our own campus has served as the foundation for CityNext projects around the world where customers are deploying cloud-based building management systems to reduce energy use, carbon and costs. We are also making important environmental data even easier to find for scientists and policy makers alike through tools like FetchClimate.

Our devices and packaging teams are working with supply chains to reimagine and transform how we think about resource use and materials sourcing. Microsoft’s supply chain team is also advancing our commitment to sustainability by minimizing the environmental footprint of our hardware and packaging and earning us a company-wide ISO 14001 certification for our entire manufacturing and supply chain process. And we are excited and looking forward to welcoming Nokia, with its strong tradition of environmental stewardship and leadership in these areas as well.

In Microsoft offices around the world, our employees are driving projects which reduce not only our own, but also our customers’, impact on the planet. Offices in Finland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, Japan, Mexico, Ireland, India, Redmond, Wash. and dozens of other locations are driving local environmental projects and empowering and encouraging our employees to get engaged in environmental opportunities.

While we have seen tremendous progress over the last year, the road ahead is even more promising. Entire sectors, like apparel manufacturing, retail, food and agriculture, and energy are rethinking their approach to resource use and the value that Microsoft technology will play in helping them transform their approach to business.

The world around us is changing, and as you’ve seen in the news, difficulties like extreme weather and droughts, severe pollution in cities and other environmental challenges continue to impact the world significantly. This is increasingly becoming a challenge for society, which makes it a bigger and bigger challenge not only for Microsoft, but also for our customers and partners. We have an amazing opportunity in front of us to tap into the culture of innovation and the power of cloud computing, devices and our partner ecosystem to enable a transition to a new way of thinking and interacting with our planet’s resources.

For a more complete overview of our work, I encourage you to visit www.microsoft.com/environment as well sign up for our Microsoft Green Blog or on Facebook or Twitter