Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability Released to Public Preview
Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, a suite of tools to help enterprises measure their environmental impact, was released on Wednesday in public preview.
The public preview launch was announced in a blog post by Brad Smith, Microsoft's president, and was purposely timed to coincide with Sunday's start of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.
The new SaaS offering, which can be set up here, bundles a suite of tools for enterprises to view, analyze and manage carbon emissions from multiple data points and sources. It also includes offerings to help businesses work toward their sustainability goals.
Smith said this tool came about due to Microsoft's struggles when trying to manage sustainability data from multiple sources. Per Smith's remarks:
We experienced this across Microsoft as we work toward our own commitments to become carbon negative, water positive and zero waste by 2030. We soon realized that we needed to bring our world-class data and environmental science teams together with our engineering and product teams to build new and better digital technology not just for ourselves, but for our customers. This was the origin for the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability.
Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability harnesses the company's cloud to create a single dashboard for three key objectives:
- Carbon emission recording: Using connectors, the offering will automate data collection from carbon outputs, like energy providers, IoT telemetry and company travel tools, in real time. It will then output into a unified data model.
- Carbon reporting: Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability will process the data into visualizations and dashboards that can be shared across the organization. It can also be exported for public data reporting.
- Carbon reduction: Along with reporting, the SaaS offering will provide advice on actionable steps an organization can take to reduce its carbon footprint. It also provides a scorecard and insights on how an organization is faring compared to peers.
Smith said that this isn't the end-goal of Microsoft's sustainability efforts, but a foundation and an early step from which the company can grow. "The work to reduce carbon emissions has become a global priority that requires focused and urgent action by all of us individually and collectively," said Smith. "We believe this new offering can make an important contribution to this effort, helping customers move toward more sustainable operations."
Other Sustainability Efforts
Microsoft also announced that it is working to have the globe speak the same "carbon language," when it comes to reducing our environmental footprint. Smith cited the ambiguous nature of the phrase "net zero" and said that Microsoft will lead by accounting for all sources of emissions -- not just select sources, as Smith says many only measure -- when referring to net zero.
Smith said the company also wants net zero to extend past offsetting an organization's carbon emissions and into taking meaningful steps to actively remove carbon from our environment. Smith announced Microsoft is investing in new technology to do this through its $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund and over $100 million in the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst initiative.