Microsoft Sustainability Report: Normalized Emissions Cut 30% since 2007
The fiscal year 2012 report, which covers the company’s operations from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, says that Microsoft met the goal with a mix of energy efficiency measures, investments in renewable energy and carbon reduction projects that were externally verified.
The report does not provide figures for the reduction, but in the company’s 2011 report Microsoft said it had fallen behind schedule on the target. In that report the company blamed the slow progress on an increased in cloud computing, which in turn led to more energy use.
The report does not include any figures for absolute carbon emissions from 2012 either. The latest year for which emission figures are included is 2011, when Microsoft emitted 1,530,352 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
Microsoft has set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by the 2013 fiscal year. To achieve the goal, Microsoft is putting an internal price on carbon that it says will make each of its business divisions responsible for the cost of offsetting of their carbon emissions. Offsetting will be made through either energy efficiency or payment into a central fund that will be used to source renewable energy or buy carbon offsets, the report says.
In an implicit indictment of the slow legislative progress on carbon legislation, the 2012 report says that “as long as the atmosphere is treated as an unlimited free resource, it will be virtually impossible to slow the rate of climate change.”
Microsoft says that its modular data centers use 50 percent less energy than traditional data centers and consume only 1 percent of the water of traditional data centers. Other data center innovations championed by the company include reducing energy use through free-air cooling and operating data centers at higher temperatures. The company cools its data center in San Antonio, Texas, using recycled water from the city’s wastewater system.
Microsoft purchased 1.1 billion kWh of green power in FY 2012, the report says. This is the third most of any US company according to EPA figures.
In 2010, the company used 1.954 billion megaliters a year, and this rose to 2.109 billion megaliters in 2011, the report shows. There is no information on the company’s 2012 water use.
The company says it has adopted a cloud-based application that collects data from smart meters, utilities, suppliers, waste processors, and internal business systems. Analyzing this data will help Microsoft enhance its reporting processes and improve its environmental performance, the report says.
Last year Microsoft required 100 percent of suppliers to abide by its revised Vendor Code of Conduct, which the company says ensure responsible practices across its operations.
Along with the carbon neutrality goal, Microsoft has committed itself to a number of other goals for 2013. These targets include sourcing more renewable power and continuing to implement its Generation 4 modular data center designs that it says are more sustainable than traditional data centers. The company also plans to roll out an energy management program to decrease energy use in the buildings at its Redmond, Wash., campus.
In June, Microsoft petitioned congressional leaders for an extension of the production tax credit for wind power, which is scheduled to expire this December. The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per megawatt hour of generated electricity for wind developers.
Earlier this month, Microsoft was one of a host of companies that called on the UK government to set a 2030 carbon target for the power sector. The lobbying took place under the auspices of the Aldersgate Group sustainable business alliance, whose members also include Cisco, PepsiCo, WWF, Friends of the Earth and numerous other businesses and NGOs.
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