Microsoft Shows Off Its Green Side on a New Website

Microsoft launches a new resource site and announces new environmental outreach efforts ahead of this year's Earth Day on April 22.

Microsoft Green 2

With days to spare before Earth Day arrives this year on April 22, Microsoft has launched a new Website that showcases the progress the IT giant has made in lowering its environmental impact.

Dubbed Microsoft Environment, the site treats visitors to facts and figures concerning the tech titan's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, procure renewable energy and recycle devices made by Microsoft.

According to the site, Microsoft has been carbon neutral since June 2012 and the company's carbon fee—an internal fee that is charged to the company's business units based on their electricity use and air travel—has helped the company reduce carbon emissions by 7.5 million metric tons since July 2012.

Using a combination of direct clean power purchase agreements and renewable energy certificates, Microsoft has been completely powered by 100 percent renewable sources. The company purchased more than 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy during its fiscal year 2015. At the company's Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, Calif., 2,288 solar panel provide onsite, emissions-free power.

On the recycling front, Microsoft has instituted a program to prevent devices manufactured by the company from ending up in a landfill.

"We manage the complexity of the return and recycle phase by partnering with recycling organizations, joining forces with collection schemes, and working with retail stores and other partners to facilitate the return and recycle process for consumers," said Rob Bernard, chief environmental and cities strategist at Microsoft, in a statement.

"Our Refurbished PC Program, for example, helps reduce e-waste by encouraging the purchase of certified used products through a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher."

Bing and Microsoft's virtual assistant, Cortana, are also getting into the spirit of eco-themed day, added Bernard. The Bing homepage image will feature the Florida Everglades to celebrate both Earth Day and National Park Week. Meanwhile, Cortana will share facts about Earth Day.

Of course, Microsoft isn't the only IT giant using technology to shed light on environmental issues.

In an April 14 blog post, Rebecca Moore, engineering director of Google Earth, Earth Engine and Outreach, explored some of Google technologies that are helping organizations and individuals become more sustainable. For example, Google's Project Sunroof can help home or business owners assess the feasibility of going solar.

"Taking Google Earth imagery and overlaying annual sun exposure and weather patterns, Sunroof is able to assess viable roof space for solar panel installation, estimate the value of solar and savings based on local energy costs, and connect you with providers of solar panels in your area," wrote Moore. As of last week, Sunroof has expanded to 42 states in the U.S., up from 10 states in December.

Google Earth Engine, the company's Earth science data and analysis platform, is helping environmentalists monitor changes in land and water. The search giant is also working with the Environmental Defense Fund to map leaks of the powerful greenhouse gas, methane. By outfitting Google Street View cars with methane detectors, they have mapped over 4,200 leaks across 10 cities.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...