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In the New York Times best-selling book Ready Player One, the protagonist powers his laptop by bicycle. While Microsoft is seeking other alternative energy sources to power the cloud, we are also big proponents of bicycle commuting at our Puget Sound campus, home to 50,000 employees. In fact, the League of American Cyclistshas deemed Microsoft a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Business among other recognitions.
At our Redmond campus, Microsoft incorporates many amenities for two-wheeled commuters, including 23 covered and secure parking cages, on-site bicycle shops with subsidized tune-ups and complimentary shower facilities at all worksites. In addition to the bicycle lanes throughout our campus, the network of regional trails in Redmond extend the safe and functional experience for our cyclists. In fact, Redmond is home to the only velodrome in Washington State and proudly calls itself the Bicycle Capital of the Northwest.
The green building game is changing. A recent McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report characterized the green building movement as one that has shifted from ‘push’ to ‘pull,’ as companies around the world are recognizing both the environmental and the business value of sustainable, energy efficient buildings. Similar to fuel efficiency ratings for vehicles, rating and disclosing the energy performance of buildings is becoming increasingly common around the world. For that reason, predicting a future building’s energy consumption before breaking ground is important for optimizing building designs and developing these ratings. But predicting a building’s energy consumption requires energy-use simulation on a scale that most architecture firms can’t achieve without a research lab and enormous computing power. At Microsoft, we’re working to change that.
One 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