Microsoft to track global footprint with CarbonSystems roll out

Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist has hinted the company will soon reveal whether it is on track to meet an ambitious 30 per cent carbon cutting goal, after announcing a major software deal to help track its environmental impact.

The IT giant yesterday confirmed it had signed a deal to roll out CarbonSystems Enterprise Sustainability Platform (ESP) application across its entire global operations, concluding its search for a software platform to help it drive down emissions and energy bills.

The cloud-based ESP application will create a single platform allowing Microsoft to track key environmental indicators and performance. The company said the system would also allow it to accurately assess the impact, payback period and return on investment of efficiency initiatives, such as projects to reduce the energy consumption of datacentres, deploy low carbon fleets and use teleconferences instead of plane travel.

Speaking to BusinessGreen, Rob Bernard, Microsoft chief environmental strategist, said the company already uses its own environmental auditing software, but hoped CarbonSystems would provide more specialist functionality, particularly for different geographical regions.

He also hinted Microsoft would shortly make an announcement on its goal to cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent by the end of 2012 against 2007 levels. He refused to comment whether the company was planning any new targets, saying only that further details would be revealed in a couple of weeks.

Microsoft is now planning to roll out the ESP application across its 600 facilities in 110 countries, and is aiming to have the full system up and running by the end of the summer.

Bernard refused to reveal the value of the contract, but said he expected it to deliver a positive return on investment “fairly quickly”, by providing a range of new functionality that will save time and costs, including for example the ability to automatically collect energy and sustainability data for Carbon Disclosure Project reporting.

He added that the system would also help inform efficiency and cost-saving decisions by providing a wide range of benchmarking, forecasting and marginal abatement cost analysis tools.

He also urged more companies to invest in carbon auditing software to help measure and reduce their environmental savings and energy bills.

“What really interests me is how we can leverage IT to make savings,” he said. “Although as a society we’re still trying to figure out exactly how to do that.”

“A lot of enterprises will start to move towards more robust systems to manage their information flow… businesses have so much upside in discovering the efficiency savings which this kind of software can provide that I think with or without policies, this area will grow.”

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