Microsoft has revealed it has set a deadline of 2012 to cut its carbon emissions by 30 percent.
Rob Bernard said in a blog post that improving energy use in buildings and operations, reducing air travel and increasing use of renewable energy will help the company meet that goal. Last year, Microsoft saved $90m on travel costs by using its Unified Communications software, he said.
Features in new buildings at the company's headquarters may already be helping. Microsoft is still working on a $1bn site expansion. Some of the new buildings include environmentally friendly features. For example, they feature under-floor cooling systems, which save energy because they blow cool air from the ground up, rather than forcing cool air from the ceiling through warmer air that naturally rises. They also include lights in offices that turn on automatically when someone walks into the room and off when the room is empty.
The company has also been vocal about its attempts to build and run its massive data centres efficiently. In one new data centre in Washington, construction vehicles burned locally grown and processed biodiesel. Other new data centres comprise shipping containers full of servers, which can reduce the amount of energy required to cool the machines.
Bernard said that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has also charged employees around the world with helping to accelerate the development of software and advance research in the areas of energy and climate change.
Microsoft has already begun offering products for companies to use to help them control their carbon footprint. An application for Microsoft's Dynamics AX enterprise resource management software, introduced in February, lets businesses find out the carbon footprint of various aspects of their operations.
Microsoft is not alone among technology companies that boast about their environmental efforts. In mid-2007, Google turned on solar panels covering nearly all the roof space on its corporate site, a platform that was expected to supply about one third of Google's energy use. It also planned to build up a 100 car fleet of plug in electric cars that employees who use public transportation could use to run errands during the work day.
Companies typically don't implement such measures for purely altruistic reasons. Cutting energy costs saves money and announcements about environmental policies can create a positive image for a company.
See also: Fujitsu shows world's first zero-watt PC