If a company wants to improve energy efficiency, it needs to think about how it can affect its products and its suppliers rather than merely what it can do internally, says Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist at Microsoft speaking today at the Green:Net Conference in San Francisco. “We have a massive problem and a massive challenge and a massive opportunity,” said Bernard.
He outlined how Microsoft is empowering its employees to think about environmental impact: An employee-suggested switch from Styrofoam cups to compostable dishware cut Microsoft’s annual waste stream by 50 percent. On the IT side, Bernard said Microsoft is focusing on the 2 percent of the world’s energy consumed by data centers and bringing Moore’s Law to them. Utilization of servers is one aspect of that, as well as offering IT professionals metrics to measure their progress with energy consumption. Bernard said only 15 percent of IT staffers have even seen their utility bills.
Taking the role of IT beyond data centers and into building management will also improve efficiency of buildings by about 30 percent Bernard said. About 37 percent of greenhouse gases come from buildings — something the Obama administration is hoping to address. In addition to bigger role for IT, Bernard talked about Microsoft’s efforts to help scientists gather data from a wide variety of sources and mash that up into a usable set of numbers so scientists can study larger issues, such as the widescale affects of climate change on water systems.