At the recent Inspire 2021 conference, Microsoft announced the preview of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, a new service to help companies measure and manage their carbon emissions, set sustainability goals and take measurable action.
Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability allows businesses to connect to real-time data, verify if the sustainability goals are met and collect reports and perform carbon accounting using SaaS offerings. Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Microsoft, explains why measuring the overall environmental impact of an organization is important but challenging:
Organizations need to be able to record their environmental footprint, report to stakeholders, reduce their resource usage, remove their footprint through carbon offsets or recycling and replace high-footprint resources with low-footprint ones. But doing this effectively means moving away from manually inputting data into spreadsheets, and toward a more seamless data flow via data connectors that provide automated, accurate, real-time data — and ultimately, turn those data-driven insights into action.
The new service adds visibility into the total environmental impact of a deployment and centralizes data sets to create reduction strategies and facilitate reporting. Among the recommended use cases for Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, Althoff highlights CIOs reporting on IT carbon emissions from the cloud, devices and applications as part of their department’s environmental footprint. Companies can offer sustainability scorecards to track progress against their carbon emission reduction goal and customers can highlight specific emission areas, tracking their emission reduction goals.
Lucas Joppa, chief environmental officer at Microsoft, and Noelle Walsh, corporate vice president at Microsoft, confirm the net-zero by 2030 commitment from Microsoft and explain how that will involve customers and partners:
The grid is not the only infrastructure that Microsoft can help decarbonize. Through new digital tools we can also assist our customers in decarbonizing their own operations and infrastructure. This was the motivation behind our announcement of a new Microsoft solution – the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability.
In a separate report, the cloud provider discusses a new digital and sustainability framework for the public sector. Microsoft is not the first software company to introduce emissions-tracking tools: Salesforce’s Sustainability Cloud allows customers to evaluate carbon emissions measuring and managing action plans and Accenture recently launched Green Cloud Advisors to enable enterprises to operate more sustainable and efficient cloud environments.
Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability is currently in preview and carbon emissions is not the only target area, with Microsoft planning to provide similar tools for waste and water consumption.