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This week, CIO compiled a list of the Top 12 Big Data Stories of 2012, explaining how Big Data emerged into the news cycle with attention to how organizations can use their data assets as a competitive advantage. Big Data is a trend expected to continue to grow and develop in 2013. In addition, GreenBiz published an article discussing the relationship among data, sustainability, IT, and smart buildings. Using big data analytics to increase energy and operational efficiency is a growing trend in businesses. An optimized smart building will decrease energy needs, which in turn, decreases the environmental footprint and bottom-line. You can see an interview of Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist on GreenBiz about how the company uses big data to increase efficiencies on its campus.
At Microsoft, we have an opportunity to shift the needle on corporate sustainability practices at many levels due to our size. This extends beyond initiatives such as our carbon neutrality commitment, our work in IT efficiency and our efforts to create green data centers. This is even true in Microsoft’s dining facilities, which recently achieved the distinction of being near-zero waste by diverting 99 percent of food waste to recycling and compost.
While we’re primarily known as a devices and services company, our Redmond campus is similar to a medium-sized city with more than 50,000 employees. That explains why in addition to making Xbox and Windows, Microsoft is also certified by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a national organization founded in 1990 to provide a convenient and cost-effective way for restaurants, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers to become more environmentally responsible.
The GRA’s certification system is based on points given for seven criteria: water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction. Microsoft is the first corporate dining program to receive the 3-star certification and is working toward four stars.
This week, Huffington Post posted a piece on a new study published in Nature about climate change predictions from 22 years ago. In 1990, climate scientists predicted a rise in global temperatures of 0.55 degrees C by 2010 and 1.1 degrees C by 2030, and current global temperatures indicate that these predictions were remarkably accurate. The accuracy is especially interesting given the technology used in 1990 was much simpler than what scientists rely on today. The 1990 predictions, which came from the first climate assessment report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), were based largely upon the amount of carbon dioxide that was already in the atmosphere. As climate change becomes an increasingly important issue for the planet, this report is a reminder that while we can’t know everything about how our actions impact the climate, we know that they do.
Microsoft is always seeking partnerships to extend energy efficiency in our operations. In 2011 we partnered with E2 Services, an energy consulting leader in the United Kingdom, to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint in our UK headquarters in Reading. The project was such a success that our Microsoft UK team was honored at the EMAP Energy Awards last Wednesday, December 5, with the Energy Efficient Partnership of the Year andthe Judges Supreme Award.
This week, GreenBiz discussed data center efficiency, a hot topic across the tech industry as companies seek to reduce their carbon emissions and environmental impact. A global industry group called Green Grid, which is working to improve resource efficient IT and data centers, compiled a five-step list on energy efficiency best practices. Important best practices including calculating the power usage effectiveness (PUE), which provides information regarding how efficient the data center is at using and sending power to its servers, and using virtualization to make better use of IT resources. Finally, Green Grid recommends companies think ahead and begin measuring water usage effectiveness (WUE) and carbon usage effectiveness (CUE), two more recent measurements that track other key areas of data center environmental impact. Microsoft is an active member in Green Grid and has been key to the development of these three measures.