Microsoft vows to be carbon neutral by 1 July

9 May 2012

Microsoft is pledging to become carbon neutral from 1 July across all of its direct operations, including its data centres, software development labs, air travel, and office buildings.

The company made the announcement in a blog post yesterday.

We’ve been hearing a lot about IT giants of late and their use of energy to power up their data centres. Just last month Greenpeace issued its How Clean is Your Cloud report in which it rated 14 global IT companies, including Microsoft, on how much greenhouse gas emissions they are producing at their data centre operations.

Greenpeace was critical of Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, claiming they all scored badly for relying on “dirty energy” to power up their data centres.

Now Microsoft appears to be hiking up its commitment to carbon neutrality. It said in the post it will start this drive from the start of its fiscal year 2013, which commences 1 July.

“Microsoft will be carbon neutral across all our direct operations including data centres, software development labs, air travel, and office buildings. We recognise that we are not the first company to commit to carbon neutrality, but we are hopeful that our decision will encourage other companies large and small to look at what they can do to address this important issue,” said chief operating officer Kevin Turner in the post.

He went on to say Microsoft is planning to “infuse carbon awareness” into every aspect of its business around the world. Turner pointed to how every Microsoft business unit will now become responsible for the carbon it generates.

Internal carbon fee

He also talked about Microsoft’s introduction of an internal carbon fee.

“We’re creating a new, internal carbon fee within Microsoft, which will place a price on carbon. The price will be based on market pricing for renewable energy and carbon offsets, and will be applied to our operations in over 100 countries,” he said.

Microsoft has also indicated that when emissions are not eliminated by efficiency measures it will purchase renewable energy and carbon offsets.

Right now, the IT giant is in the middle of a smarter buildings pilot at its Redmond, Washington, campus to explore how it can make its buildings more energy efficient.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic