The Next Generation of Smart Buildings at Microsoft

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The Next Generation of Smart Buildings at Microsoft

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IMG_8388One of the biggest contributors to greenhouses gases in the U.S. is what you’d least expect—commercial buildings. In fact, the office you’re reading this blog post in right now may have as much of an environmental impact as your commute to work today. Commercial buildings are responsible for nearly 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases—nearly as much as the emissions from all forms of transportation. They are also one of the single greatest operating expenses for companies. Energy plays a significant part in those expenses, particularly when inefficiencies across commercial buildings waste an estimated 15 to 30 percent of the energy they use.

In October 2011, we published a whitepaper that detailed a pilot at Microsoft to make energy-smart buildings. The pilot began with a fairly small number of buildings on our Redmond campus. We took the building management system in some of our buildings and added an additional layer of IT intelligence on top of them. We found that we could reduce energy usage by 6 to 10 percent—all without needing to make a single retrofit to buildings. Today in a story on Microsoft News Center called "88 Acres; How Microsoft Quietly Built the City of the Future," we’re sharing what the next generation of smart buildings at Microsoft look like as we roll out the program across our corporate headquarters campus, which itself is essentially the size of a small city with 125 buildings and over 40,000 employees.

At the heart of Microsoft’s smart buildings approach is Big Data. With 2 million data points across its campus creating 500 million data transactions daily, we’ve put our campus to work over the past year as a living lab to pilot several smart building solutions from our partners in parallel. We worked closely with those partners to test their solutions in a real-life setting across 2.6 Million square feet, while applying a number of Microsoft’s own products, such as SQL StreamInsight, Windows Server, Silverlight and SharePoint, as part of the overall architecture.

When you compare the savings from smart buildings to the cost of retrofitting an existing building and the associated occupant disruption, it’s clear that Big Data and analysis enabled by software can yield significant financial and environmental savings. Check out the Microsoft News Center story, which includes an infographic and some other visual storytelling elements, to see how the smart buildings on Microsoft’s Redmond campus are an example of how IT is reimagining buildings to have less of an impact on the planet.

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