Microsoft increased its global renewable energy purchases by nearly 70 percent in FY13, to 2.3 billion kWh, helping the company to achieve its carbon neutrality goal, according to the company’s latest citizenship report.
As Environmental Leader reported last month, Microsoft achieved its goal of net-zero emissions for its data centers, software development labs, offices, and employee air travel.
To do this, it set an internal carbon fee. Business divisions pay a fee according to the amount of carbon they emit – for example, from air travel. The money goes into Microsoft’s carbon fund, and the company invests the money in energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon offsets.
The report does not say how much of Microsoft’s zero-carbon achievement can be attributed to efficiency, how much to renewables and how much to carbon offsets.
It does show GHG emissions for the last three years, from which we can calculate some percent changes. In 2012, the company’s GHG emissions rose 2.3 percent to 1.57 million metric tons CO2e, up from 1.53 in 2011 and 1.50 in 2010. Scope 1 emissions rose 2.3 percent last year, from 303,012 metric tons in 2011 to 309,995 in 2012. Scope 2 emissions rose 1.8 percent to 1.2 million metric tons, and Scope 3 emissions (air travel only) rose 19 percent to 48,516 million metric tons.
The tech giant is the second-largest purchaser of green energy in the US, according to the latest EPA rankings, with more than 1.9 billion kWh of green energy, or 80 percent of its US energy use. This is comprised of purchases from Sterling Planet and on-site generation.
In FY14, the company says it is committed to “evolving” the carbon fee, based on current market pricing for renewable energy and carbon offsets.
The report includes results from the 2013 fiscal year, running July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.
The company says that it used the GRI G3.1 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines to help determine relevant content and metrics, and that to improve this year’s report, it incorporated information to address a range of stakeholder requests.
The report is rather light on data and context, however. For example, for many of the reductions that Microsoft claims, it does not give baselines or hard figures (such as MWh of energy) and is sometimes unclear on the date the target was achieved. Many of the metrics and trends one would expect to find, such as company-wide energy consumption, water use and solid waste output, are missing from the report. CO2 is stated as an absolute output, not in terms of revenue.