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At Microsoft, we have an opportunity to shift the needle on corporate sustainability practices at many levels due to our size. This extends beyond initiatives such as our carbon neutrality commitment, our work in IT efficiency and our efforts to create green data centers. This is even true in Microsoft’s dining facilities, which recently achieved the distinction of being near-zero waste by diverting 99 percent of food waste to recycling and compost.
While we’re primarily known as a devices and services company, our Redmond campus is similar to a medium-sized city with more than 50,000 employees. That explains why in addition to making Xbox and Windows, Microsoft is also certified by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a national organization founded in 1990 to provide a convenient and cost-effective way for restaurants, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers to become more environmentally responsible.
The GRA’s certification system is based on points given for seven criteria: water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction. Microsoft is the first corporate dining program to receive the 3-star certification and is working toward four stars.
For the last year Microsoft has been working with i-fixit, the online repair manual site, to develop and test a curriculum to help people start a small business offering repair services for mobile phone, tablets and laptops. The work was sponsored by our Registered Refurbisher Program, which already works with thousands of PC refurbishers to extend the life of Windows PCs. While good for business and the economy, there is a large environmental benefit from this work, especially when applied to mobile phones and tablets.
As programs like FLOW-AID, profiled recently in this blog post, work on issues around agricultural water conservation, the sustainable use of water has emerged as a major point of discussion among sustainability influencers. Water is one of earth’s most precious resources, and new technology is beginning to reveal ways to help us better protect bodies of water worldwide while utilizing their value. Read on to learn more about how data modeling is assisting in protecting natural areas receiving significant use, while scientists on the other side of the world are finding new ways to harness the ocean for energy with little environmental impact.
Yesterday, the Corporate Eco Forum (CEF) awarded our colleague Tamara “TJ” DiCaprio with the 2014 C.K. Prahalad Award. The award, presented at the Corporate Eco Forum’s fifth annual C.K. Prahalad Awards ceremony, recognized winners for demonstrating “globally significant private sector action that exemplifies the fundamental connection between sustainability, innovation and long-term business success in a globalizing world.” The two other recipients of the award included Robert Carter, executive vice president of information services and chief information officer at FedEx, and The Global Water Challenge.
At Microsoft, one of the ways in which employees can contribute directly to reducing the company’s environmental footprint is through their daily commute. We continue to find ways to encourage employees to get to work in a more sustainable way. One of the ways we help reduce the number of vehicles on the road is by providing employees access to programs like The Connector, a free Puget Sound bus service that is available to all fulltime Microsoft employees.