Microsoft’s Director of Environmental Sustainability Talks Green Initiatives, Copenhagen Summit
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not a big number, it’s roughly the same as the airline industry. So it’s a fairly big number that we have a responsibility to act upon and drive reductions in energy use in the industry that we’re a leader in. We think that IT can play a significant role in improving the energy efficiency in other industries—the other 98 percent as we like to call it—which would mean creating smarter buildings, or smarter transportation, smart grids, or even things like dematerialization—we convert something that’s physical to digital. A big part of reducing requires measurement or management. You’re really seeing energy efficiency and sustainability becoming a key design principle of how we think of building and delivering software to our customers.
The second pillar is around working with scientists to accelerate research, but also to help find a broader solution to climate change. We’re doing that through building tools with scientists to help them do research by providing modeling capabilities so we can better understand the impacts of climate change.
And then lastly, responsible environmental leadership. This is about our own operations and how Microsoft becomes a good steward or the environment. We have set a carbon reduction goal for the company—it’s a 30 percent reduction by 2012, based on 2007 levels. And that’s something that we’re really driving very deeply in the company, around reducing the energy use of our buildings, driving efficiency through our data centers, then reducing travel through the use of technology. It’s not necessarily how much money is applied to it, but how you’re changing your business practices to make sustainability a key part of the company. It really is something that permeates everything that we do.
X: What were the goals in Copenhagen, and how was the delegation received?
FA: Copenhagen was fantastic in a lot of different ways for Microsoft. The goal that we had was to demonstrate the potential that the IT industry has to help address energy and climate change challenges that the world faces—evangelizing what’s possible with technology. We had a presence in a number of different panels to debate different issues. We had a booth where we demonstrated to governments and policy makers what was possible through technology, and we had a number of different tools that we used there.
X: What was Rob Bernard’s experience like?
FA: He was just blown away. He thought it was actually a great event. It was amazing how people eyes lit up when they saw the tools that we were showing and what was possible, again, today, without necessarily replacing all the infrastructure that you have in a country to get the solution, but really using tools to help manage energy consumption at home to visualize the impact of environmental issues. People were blown away by both the breadth of what we were showing, but also the depth of the thinking that we have on adjusting this issue at scale.
X: How do smaller green-IT companies and partner organizations fit into your strategy?
FA: Microsoft can’t be the only one driving solutions. We need to bring our whole ecosystem together. There’s always going to be a role for partners within our strategy. And they’re part of our thinking and that approach. Partners are key to everything that we do.
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