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When you look across the modern urban landscape, you can see buildings of all shapes and sizes, from iconic architectural landmarks like Seattle’s Space Needle to the mix of old and new buildings that define modern skylines. Buildings define the character of a city in their individuality, but they have one thing in common the world over--they consume a lot of energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), more than 4.2 million commercial buildings waste an average 30 percent of the energy that owners and tenants pay for. And commercial buildings account for nearly 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., which means that increasing a building’s energy efficiency has benefits across society.
As the planet’s population races toward 9 billion by 2050, the only way to meet growing energy needs will be to use energy more efficiently. The good news is that advances in IT are making the prospect of a less energy-intensive future a little brighter, whether it’s using IT solutions and a slick interface to help German consumers get the most from their home’s solar panels or continuing to modernize the electric grid. Read on to learn how a German startup and major U.S. states are relying on innovation—technological and political—to lead the way toward a more energy efficient tomorrow.
Recently industry and policy leaders gathered in Cape Town, South Africa to address a major environmental challenge facing the continent of Africa: e-waste, the discarded leftovers of electronics. This is an important issue for Africa, as experts in the region have estimated that by 2017, West Africa will generate more e-waste than all of Europe.
The African E-Waste and Refurbishment Standards Conference was attended by e-waste recyclers and refurbishment companies from 10 African countries. The event, sponsored by Microsoft, was organized by TechSoup Global, TechSoup Africa, WorldLoop, and Mico E-Waste Solutions. Participants included international companies such as UNIDO, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo/IBM, the e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA) and many others. The day-long event brought together those committed to evolving the state of electronics recycling in Africa, with the goal of assessing issues and problems facing the region as a result of improper disposal, and discussing ways to address them.
From recycling on our Las Colinas Campus in Texas and fighting wildfires in Greece, to supporting green building in Italy and reducing our carbon footprintin Puerto Rico, we’re proud of the work Microsoft does to reduce the impact of its operations and products and drive responsible environmental leadership around the world. And we’re excited to add the achievements of another Microsoft team to this list.
In Japan we were recently recognized by the MM Research Institute for our commitment to green IT through our Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) Program. Over the past three years our MAR program has led to a significant increase of refurbished PC sales in Japan. Our MAR Program not only diverts e-waste from landfills, but it also increases access to information by providing affordable technology solutions around the country.
Today more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and it’s predicted that by 2050, 76 percent of the global population will live in urban areas. This ongoing population shift has created unprecedented challenges for our cities, and leaders must meet growing citizen demands for things like efficient transportation and reliable infrastructure with limited resources. But it is vital that our city leaders meet these demands, because it is in cities that opportunities for higher education are pursued, innovations in health care are advanced and business drives economic growth. It is also in cities that 75 percent of the world’s energy is consumed.
At Microsoft, we believe that economically and environmentally sustainable cities are critical to achieving sustainability in society as a whole. Cities that are designed and operated to be energy-efficient have the potential to be one of the most effective means to this end. Today, we are excited that Microsoft has announced the global initiative CityNext, which furthers our vision for energy-smart cities.