Microsoft has advocated for large-scale ecosystem modeling through a partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre. It has worked to restore large aquatic ecosystems—particularly in the Puget Sound region—through a cooperative project with the U.S. EPA. The Microsoft Research Connections team explored how available data and technology can help build relationships between community members, landholders, and decision makers at the county and city level. It has also mapped out threats to endangered wildlife in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resource’s Red List of Threatened Species and helped preserve threatened plant and animal species in Latin America through LiveANDES, a data collection and processing tool developed by Microsoft Research in collaboration with the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and The Latin American and Caribbean Collaborative ICT Research Federation (LACCIR Virtual Institute).
The Green Advantage
After making important strides in the previous year, such as achieving its ambitious carbon neutral goal, the fruits of these efforts are difficult to reap even for Microsoft. Though it has begun to invest in renewable energy, Microsoft has thus far relied heavily on buying Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and carbon offsets. In terms of perception, wider public discussion around ethical sourcing, which put the brand under scrutiny for its tin mining in Indonesia, has possibly had an impact. In order to further enhance its green reputation, the technology giant must increase disclosure (particularly around supply chain and stakeholder engagement) and make a greater effort to communicate its sustainability commitments and contributions to social good. Toward that end, actions such as signing a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy all the energy from the Keechi Wind Project and sharing stories like “88 Acres” about turning its 125 buildings in Redmond into a smart campus help to create positive impact for the Microsoft brand and our world. The brand’s increased performance score in 2014 is proof of its progress, but Microsoft’s drop in rank, despite so much improvement, shows just how serious leading brands are about meeting increasingly ambitious sustainability targets.
First renewable energy purchase
Microsoft on reducing impact, including a video of campus waste reduction
Renewable energy and green power
Carbon Fee Playbook