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Last week’s State of the Union address included a major focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy, and this week’s news has a number of stories showing how the private sector is making progress toward those goals. Environmental writer and strategist Andrew Winston published a case study in the Harvard Business Review on Diageo North America, a multi-billion dollar spirits company that has emerged as a leader in decreasing their carbon emissions. Greentech Media also showed that energy efficiency is more crucial to economic productivity than energy production and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a very interesting fact on new energy capacity.
While the physical design of a device certainly plays an important role in how it consumes power, software can also influence power consumption based on how it is programmed to use the device’s CPU, disk and memory. Windows 8 has numerous features that help make it more energy efficient, but we are also starting to see specific applications on the Windows Store that are helping people understand and measure their Windows PC’s energy use.
Sustainability is a diverse issue that impacts all aspects of business and life. At Microsoft we’ve worked to infuse our company with environmentally responsible values and to be part of the larger discussion about how software can contribute to a more sustainable world. But as Microsoft’s business has broadened into devices and services, so has our commitment to sustainability. For that reason, we are renaming our team’s blog as the Microsoft Green Blog.
This new name is inclusive of the company’s overall commitment to environmental sustainability, from the adoption of our internal carbon fee to the role that information technology has to play in making a more sustainable planet. In 2013 we will continue sharing stories on this blog about how IT can enable society to seek sustainable solutions, and will also discuss larger issues of sustainability and how Microsoft is contributing to a more environmentally responsible world through our business practices.
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
At Microsoft, we understand how quickly information technology impacts society. This video with chief environmental strategist Rob Bernard addresses how the cloud is at the forefront of transforming society—and why that’s good news for the environment.