The demand for environmental impact information from organizations have increased significantly this last year.   and for good reason.   Customers, regulators, investors and partners are very concerned about carbon footprint, overall pollution and ecological impact.   This has put more companies under the microscope for their impact to environmental sustainability.

As a result, the Environmental / Greenness critic / analyst market is a lucrative field today.   And there is no shortage of critics on websites and TV stations.   However, as more self appointed greenness police enter the market,  it's important to investigate the narrow lens through which they judge organizations.   

I've noticed that an organization's commitment to environmental sustainability can be complex and more mature organizations usually use a multi-tier model.

If i were rating organizations impact on environmental sustainability, I would use a multi-tier model to investigate their work.

What are the number of impact areas you are targeting?

  • Consumer experience
  • Partner experience
  • Worker productivity experience
  • IT operational experience
  • General Public experience

Then, you have to determine the metrics and progress you are going to make in focused impact areas.

Third, what processes, innovations and strategies are you leveraging to accomplish the goal.

Finally, you report your results.

However, most critics often use a very narrow lens to look at the "greenness" of an organization.  

Today, in the New York Times, the Climate Counts group gave an impressive rating to Google 55 while rating Microsoft at a 38.   They quoted Google's commitment to go carbon neutral.  

Google is a heavy user for energy and all of their green token projects have been tiny.  I predict they have spent more money marketing their green projects than the actual projects themselves.

Also, if they have a commitment to be carbon neutral, why don't they release their real carbon footprint numbers?  in the spirit of openness and "do no evil", why don't they disclose the real progress or allow the public to tour their centers to see the real work being done to improve environmental impact?

Apple was given a very low rating of 11.   I think it's comical in the interview with the New York Times, Apple blamed much of their carbon footprint on their users. 

So let talk about Microsoft:

Microsoft is one of the only massive web solutions companies that allows customers to tour their datacenters to see the real  environmental improvements to increase efficiency and decrease environmental impact.

From presentations from Microsoft's datacenter team to the public, it's explained how we measure and how granular we measure and what specific steps Microsoft takes.   I've worked for many large tech giants and at this point, I haven't seen a more open model to the public. 

also:

Microsoft as developed the most aggressive power saving features in the world for client and server computers.  There are significant power savings capabilities for consumers and administrators to control to reduce energy consumption of their operating system experience.

Microsoft's .Net platform has capabilities for developers to write power aware applications in WPF (windows presentation foundation) to reduce power drain on client systems.

In the last couple of years,(many would be surprised) Microsoft now offers some of the most consolidation infrastructure options to reduce the number of servers and clients in an IT organization.

Microsoft invests significant amounts of money into the Microsoft Research group to design solutions for consumers and corporations reduce environmental impact. 

Microsoft offers some of the most pervasive remote worker solutions in the world.

Microsoft has invested significantly in websites, concerts and public campaigns to  help consumers learn how to reduce environmental impact (much of it not relating to our product line).

In reality, it's easy to see how critics can pick apart organizations through their narrow lens.  I predict that we will see more of these models in the future.   But, I hope the environmental sustainability market matures to a better state than this.

Lewis