This year will see a transformation in the role of information and communications technologies in sustainability, with awareness increasing and more companies adopting ICT to change resource use, according to Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist Robert Bernard.
Microsoft’s five ICT sustainability predictions for 2014 are:
- ICT becomes a sustainability strategy for companies. There’s been a slow, yet steady increase around the awareness and early adoption of ICT for sustainability, Bernard says. Mainstream adoption is still a long way off. However, 2014 will mark the beginning of the transition from early adoption to mainstream use of ICT-based solutions.
- Demand for green energy continues to grow. Expiring tax incentives in the US will not dampen demand for green energy. Companies are seeking out ways to buy clean energy and in many cases its the procurement, not sustainability departments. Bernard says this shift is because operating teams within large companies see clean energy as an opportunity for controlling costs — a sign that sustainability is making its way into mainstream solutions.
- Investments in smart buildings will increase dramatically. Most of the increased investment on ICT-enable smart buildings will occur in cities, where it will be used to change energy. Landlords are beginning to recognize that LEED-designed buildings are great, but realizing their potential requires those buildings to run well. Low capital costs for ICT combined with minimal disruption of work suggests 2014 will see a number of major real estate management and ownership companies and cities begin to deploy smart building management at a more rapid pace, Bernard says.
- Improved modeling and new ways to measure natural capital. Valuing natural capital can be difficult to measure and price accurately. In 2014, there will be a shift in the approach of enterprises, governments and NGOs to find more sophisticated ways to leverage data and better understand the real value of their natural capital.
- ICT-related pilots in the field of food, energy and water. Major companies will begin this year to deploy pilot programs that use ICT in agriculture and resource efficiency in food production. Bernard says the shift to using ICT for food, water and energy isn’t a one-year prediction, but one that will evolve over time.