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For the past several years, I’ve used Earth Day as an opportunity to look at Microsoft’s progress on environmental sustainability issues over the past 12 months and where we are headed in the year to come.
The most significant progress to report is around Microsoft’s work to achieve carbon neutrality in our current fiscal year. We announced this commitment last year. I’m excited we made the commitment and are on track to meet it, but I am even more excited about how we’re meeting it. We are one of the very first companies to put an internal price on carbon emissions, which provides our business and operational groups more awareness and incentives to conserve energy and seek renewable power. The fee enables us to invest in renewable energy credits and certified offset projects to meet our carbon neutrality goal. I attended the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen a few years ago where the nations of the world tried and failed to achieve a global system for addressing greenhouse gas emissions. With that in mind, I’m struck that Microsoft is one of very few organizations in the world today imposing a carbon fee across operations in 100+ countries in a way that makes economic and environmental sense.
From operations to products, Microsoft is committed to driving responsible environmental leadership around the world. Our Las Colinas Campus in Irving, Texas, recently won the 2012 North Texas Corporate Recycling Association’s Green Award, joining our Redmond campus and offices worldwide in being recognized for efforts to reduce waste.
For the past two years, the Dallas-area campus has kept more than 12,000 tons of solid waste out of the local landfill. Behind these efforts has been the introduction of campus-wide organic composting containers in break rooms and cafés.
As a consumer, what do you consider before making a purchase? According to new research by Cone Communications, 71 percent of Americans take environmental impact of the product into account. This is an increase from even four years ago when only 66 percent of Americans considered the environment before making a purchase. What’s more, Good.Must.Grow, a self-proclaimed socially responsible marketing agency, released some statistics on consumer behavior this week, finding that 60 percent of respondents also prefer to buy goods from socially-responsible companies. Read on to learn more about the influence corporate social and environmental responsibility has on consumer purchasing.
Solar energy is taking off in Japan. In fact, last year nearly 3 GW of photovoltaics were installed across the country. The country’s tight power supply and demand situation—the vast majority of nuclear generation was taken offline following the Fukushima disaster—has made managing energy generation a very important issue. That’s one reason why the town of Nichinan in Hino-gun, Tottori Prefecture, has turned to the Windows Azure cloud service as part of the energy management system for its new solar power station.
Since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Japan has doubled down on efforts to expand the country’s renewable energy production. Before the earthquake and tsunami critically damaged the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, Japan received as much as 30 percent of its energy from nuclear power and planned to expand nuclear generation to 50 percent of the country’s energy needs.
This week Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of top U.S. companies, published its 2013 reporton how many of the U.S.’s top companies are addressing sustainability challenges. The report includes a letter from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who outlines how Microsoft is using technology to reduce its carbon footprint and how technology can achieve gains in energy efficiency.
Business Roundtable is a who’s who of American business. The companies represented by the organization comprise more than $7.3 trillion in annual revenue and combined represent nearly one-third of the total value of the U.S. stock market. The key theme in this year’s report—which is entitled “Create, Grow, Sustain: How Companies Are Doing Well by Doing Good”—is that companies are making a difference in their communities, developing products that improve lives and are pursuing socially responsible business practices.