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I’m Rob Symington, I am part of the Environmental Sustainability team at Microsoft and work on employee engagement, web, and social media. A couple of weeks ago I attended the Sustainable Brands 2013 Conference in San Diego, California. It was packed with a cross-section of great companies like Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Intel addressing how they are making sustainability one of the core parts of their businesses. For these companies, sustainability is not only the right thing to do; it’s good business as well. Suzanne Fallender from Intel, spoke about how they have incorporated sustainability into employee bonuses for things like office energy use, that year they achieved a 6% reduction. Asset management and resource efficiency are key and will contribute not only to reducing impact on the environment but increasing revenue. Focusing on reducing energy use, waste, and materials can lead to a lot of great things, especially if you harness the power of a company’s employees to help it develop new ideas and meet its reduction goals.
At Microsoft we firmly believe that technology is and will continue to play a key role in solving environmental and societal challenges. We have seen several examples over the past few months—from software solution that make buildings smarter to how a computer model can dramatically enhance our understanding of the planet’s biodiversity. We also believe employee engagement is key to long term success and have put in place some best practices that help us align personal values with corporate sustainability objectives. Many other companies have this same perspective and are looking to experts like Hunter Lovins, who said, “Companies with engaged employees are more profitable” to take their employee engagement to the next level. We will continue to evolve our employee engagement practices to help drive more efficiency with the energy that we consume in our data centers, labs, and offices while reducing our use of air travel. Our employees and technology will play important roles in both how we achieve those targets and how we measure our progress along the way.