Microsoft to go carbon neutral

Global software giant, Microsoft, has announced that its data centres, software labs, air travel and office buildings will go 'carbon neutral' from July, which is the start of the company’s new financial year.

More than 100 companies within the group will be made accountable for their use of energy and carbon emissions. They will be rewarded for increasing their energy efficiency or generating renewable energy on site, and an internal carbon fee will be charged for any remaining emissions.

'The right thing'

Chief operating officer, Kevin Turner said: "Working on the issues of energy use and environmental change provides another opportunity to make a difference in the world. It's the right thing to do, and it's also an opportunity to promote positive change."

He added: "The carbon price and charge-back model is designed to provide an economic incentive for business groups across Microsoft to reduce carbon emissions, through efficiency measures and increased use of renewable energy."

The group also plans to invest £928,000 in the fiscal year 2013 in developing energy efficient software solutions, after pressure from environmental groups such as Greenpeace to 'green' its cloud services.

Microsoft is already the third biggest customer of low carbon energy in the USA, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and it currently sources 46 per cent of its power from renewable sources.

Cautious welcome

Greenpeace has welcomed the group’s decision to go carbon neutral, but called for renewable energy technologies to be incorporated into any new data centre developments.

Last month, Greenpeace ranked Microsoft as one of the worst offending IT giants, in terms of its reliance on fossil fuels.

Under the new internal carbon pricing mechanism, the company could still potentially complete the construction of new coal-fuelled data centres in Virginia and Wyoming, in the USA, so long as it offsets the emissions with its own renewable energy credits.

Microsoft’s competitors, Facebook and Google, have recently pledged to move away from coal-powered data centres.

Posted under Energy Efficiency, Environmental Technologies and Renewable Energy and Creative and Digital Industries on 16 May 2012