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Microsoft's Commitment to Green Datacenters

Many enterprises have stepped up their efforts to reduce the carbon footprints of their facilities to cut the costs of their operations. It makes good business sense but just as important, reducing emissions is a responsibility every organization should endeavor to provide a cleaner environment.

On this Earth Day many companies are using the occasion to share their contributions toward reducing the amount of power their facilities are consuming. For its part, Microsoft's multi-year cloud computing transformation has afforded the company to push the envelope in reducing the amount of power required to run its growing global datacenter footprint.

Microsoft says it is one of the first major organizations to impose internal fees on carbon emissions, which has given those who manage different businesses and operations incentives to conserve energy by using alterative renewable power sources at 100 worldwide datacenters. Robert Bernard, Microsoft's chief environmental strategist said in a blog post today the company has so far used $4 million from those fees to invest renewable energy projects around the world.

"While we still have progress to make in reducing our environmental footprint and realizing the potential of technology to address environmental challenges, I'm pleased to say that we are well on our way to making environmental sustainability a core value at Microsoft," Bernard noted. "We're more confident than ever about the role of IT to address climate change and other important environmental challenges."

As a result of its efforts to run greener datacenters, Microsoft this year ranked No. 2 behind Intel on the EPA's Green Power Partnership list this year. Microsoft's annual green power usage was about 1.9 billion kilowatts per hour, representing 80 percent of its energy usage,  thanks to its implementation of Sterling Planet's bioenergy products and services as well as Microsoft's investments in hydro and biomass renewable energy.

In its new datacenters, Microsoft's Power Use Effectiveness, or PUE averages at 1.125, compared to an industry average of 1.8. Among some other facts noted by Microsoft, its new Quincy, Wash. datacenter uses primarily hydro power generated by the local Columbia River and at its Dublin, Ireland datacenter uses 1 percent of the amount of water typically utilized in traditional datacenter. Bernard also last year said for every unit of energy not coming from a renewable energy source such as hydro or wind, the company purchases renewable energy to offset that.

Not every organization has the resources and commitment to invest in green initiatives to that extent but everyone can do their part. En Pointe Technologies, a systems integrator based in Gardena, Calif. last week gave some tips that we all can consider:

  • Conserve power: Using the power management options in Windows and Active Directory, IT can ensure systems are in sleep mode during non-business hours
  • Power down completely: Shutting down monitors, PCs and printers after business hours can reduce 66 percent of power usage. For example large enterprise printer in sleep mode still consumes 26 watts of power but only .5 watts when turned off
  • Reduce paper usage by printing less. According to the EPA, the average user prints 10,000 pages per year. Reducing that could add 3 percent to a company's bottom line.

Earth Day is a good day to renew our commitment to making more efficient use of energy not just to save money but to provide a cleaner environment.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/22/2013 at 1:15 PM


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