Microsoft’s Ambitious Environmental Plans

Overview Technology powerhouse Microsoft has taken a new environmental pledge and announced a partnership that promises to show how tech can help tackle carbon emissions.

Climate change, renewable resources and more are now at the top of mind for many companies, who are making environmental commitments while continuing to grow their business. The consumer technology industry has become a driving force in sustainability efforts even as consumer demand for devices increases.

Among those championing the effort is CES® exhibitor and Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® member Microsoft. The technology giant is taking steps to address the world’s sustainability needs, aiming to increase water availability and decrease carbon emissions.

Water Positive by 2030

Microsoft has committed to a number of initiatives related to water resources, announcing that it will be water positive — replenishing more water than the company uses — by the year 2030.
Its plans include investments in a variety of projects, including:

  • Wetland restoration and the removal of impervious surfaces like asphalt, which will help replenish water-stressed basins
  • An on-site rainwater collection system and waste treatment plant in the Microsoft Silicon Valley campus, which will manage and reuse water and save an estimated 4.3 million gallons of potable water each year
  • Innovative adiabatic cooling methods at the new datacenter region in Arizona; the cooling method uses outside air when temperatures are below 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and an evaporative cooling system for higher temperatures

Microsoft has also partnered with nongovernmental organizations to ensure that more than 1.5 million people have access to clean drinking and sanitation water, aiming to expand its work to global underserved communities.

By leveraging Microsoft’s own technology to better understand where and why water stress is emerging, the team hopes to empower further conversations about the water crisis and lead tangible change.

The Zero-Carbon Commitment

Microsoft has also teamed up with energy titan Shell to help each meet their respective zero-carbon targets. The partnership also opens the doors for more opportunities for the two companies to help other businesses meet environmental and safety goals.

The companies aim to combine Shell’s expertise in efficient energy creation with Microsoft’s expertise in technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and the internet of things (IoT). An initial project under the partnership gauged the areas where the cooperation will have the greatest effect, identifying 47 separate applications designed to reduce the carbon footprint of energy production.

One such application leveraged AI algorithms to analyze Shell’s production and distribution of liquified natural gas. AI helped identify sources of high carbon dioxide emission, computing the most efficient adjustments to reduce emissions.

Tackling these pressing global challenges, Microsoft hopes its own commitments will contribute to the growing worldwide movement to get ahead of sustainability crises.

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