Posted by Rob Bernard  
Chief Environmental StrategistEarth Day

Earth Day and every day, we face significant environmental challenges tied to the way we live and use resources.  Effectively managing our scarce energy resources while addressing climate change – even as the world’s population steadily rises – will be one of the great challenges of the 21st century. Microsoft is working hard with our partners, customers and suppliers, as well as with governments and leading environmental organizations, to help address this critical environmental challenge.  This Earth Day, I want to share the latest information on our Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which focuses on three core areas:

Using information technology to dramatically improve energy efficiency.  Information and communications technology (ICT) products are responsible for around 2% of global carbon emissions, according to the analyst firm Gartner.  Microsoft is working to create new technologies and improve industry best practices to reduce the energy use of information technology devices.  In a recent webcast to employees our COO Kevin Turner set out as a benchmark that the world should triple productivity gains from computing by 2020 without increasing the energy consumed to power this expansion in technology. ICT hardware and software can also play a huge role in reducing the other 98% of greenhouse gas emissions, from all sectors.  A climate report by the World Wildlife Fund noted, “There is probably no other sector where the opportunities through the services provided holds such a reduction potential as for the IT industry.” As just one example, Microsoft’s own use of our Unified Communications virtual meeting and telework software is already reducing our employee travel by approximately 1 million air miles a year, and reducing our carbon footprint by 17,000 metric tons annually. We have plans in place to further reduce travel and energy use with even greater use of telework.

Accelerating research breakthroughs. Scientific research into the impact that human behavior has on complex environmental and biological systems provides the insights needed for effective policy change and increased environmental awareness. Research also yields improvements in energy use, resource management and environmental planning. Microsoft Research is working with leading scientists to expand the boundaries of our knowledge by creating tools, technologies and models to enhance scientific understanding on a global scale.

Demonstrating responsible environmental leadership at home. As I blogged last month, Microsoft is committed to reducing our global carbon emissions per unit of revenue by at least 30% by 2012 (compared with 2007 levels). We have undertaken several initiatives to decrease our environmental impact, from green-building-designs to the introduction of food composting on all our campuses. We operate one of the world’s largest company-owned fleets of buses to reduce congestion, emissions and employee commuting miles at our Puget Sound headquarters.

These efforts are part of a long-term commitment to environmental stewardship at Microsoft.  We recognize that the technology industry can have adverse impacts on the environment that we and our partners are working to minimize.  At the same time, we know innovative technologies can help solve the environmental challenges we all face, and we are committed to achieving breakthroughs and putting them to use as quickly as possible.

For more information on Microsoft’s sustainability work please visit http://www.microsoft.com/environment.