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Beverley Head - ITWire
Global software giant Microsoft has turned to a Sydney software company for the smarts to track and manage its carbon footprint and energy and resources usage worldwide.
CarbonSystems' Environmental Sustainability Platform is already being used locally by the likes of the Commonwealth Bank, Canon and Deloitte - but securing Microsoft as a reference site is likely to catapault the company's international sales which currently account for only about 25 per cent of its total revenues.
David Solsky, chief executive and co-founder of CarbonSystems, explained that the current platform grew out of a system developed in 2003 to read electricity smart meters. It has now been expanded to manage an enterprise's entire sustainability programme covering electricity, gas, waste water and corporate social responsibility.
Microsoft will be using the cloud based ESP system as the global standard for managing its energy efficiency and performance reporting. Mr Solsky said that the company operated the cloud based platform out of four data centres - two in Australia and two in the US.
Access to the CarbonSystems platform will be provided at 600 plus Microsoft facilities in 110 countries. Internationally CarbonSystems has 110 customers monitoring their environmental conditions in 45,000 different locations according to Mr Solsky.
In a media release Rob Bernard, Microsoft's chief environmental strategist said that: 'Microsoft is committed to measuring, transparently reporting and minimising the carbon footprint of our operations. '
He added that 'CarbonSystems' ESP will enable us to efficiently collect, analyse and share environmental data, delivering new levels of understanding about the resources we use.'?
Since it launched the ESP in 2008, CarbonSystems has grown substantially, from 12 people in 2009 to 52 today according to Mr Solsky. The arrival of the carbon tax in Australia should spur further growth.
'The problem for clients is that there are increasing pressures regarding transparency on sustainability - but the big challenge is that the data is very distributed: the facilities guys have some, the procurement department has some. The number one challenge to doing any sustainability reporting is to get all the data to one place and make sure it is of a good quality.
'That's the number one challenge we solve,'? said Mr Solsky, adding that the company had developed a proprietary tool set to help companies map and collect the data they had in various departments, and then automatically extract the data from different departments to be uploaded to the cloud.
Besides offering management reports and dashboards, the company has widgets available which allow companies to comply with reporting requirements - for example those companies which are obliged to monitor their Nabers rating. NABERS, or the National Australian Built Environment Rating System, effectively provides star ratings for existing buildings, but the building performance needs to be constantly monitored in order to achieve and maintain a rating.
Although only around 500 companies are expected to be directly impacted by the looming carbon tax, there are another 300 which are too small for the carbon tax, but are already caught in the NGER (National Greenhouse and Emissions Reporting) net which also need access to comprehensive data regarding their energy and utilities usage. Mr Solsky said that the financial implications of the carbon tax meant that a broad sweep of companies - not just those directly caught in the carbon tax net - would need to be assured of the quality of their data.
'In addition to those 800 companies there is a flow on effect in the supply chain because of the rising cost of energy,'? said Mr Solsky. 'We estimate that there are 1,500 companies that are not caught by NGER but will feel it in the hip pocket and will be looking for energy tracking.'?
Companies which were brand conscious and wanted to be seen to be doing the right thing from an environmental standpoint were also a sales target for CarbonSystems. All up he believed that there were 2,500-3,000 companies which would be able to take advantage of the system.
As a cloud based service the cost depends very much on the scale of service required. Mr Solsky said access to the system typically ranged from around $400 a year at the small end of the scale, to 'hundreds of thousands'? at the other end of the scale.
Working in collaboration with CarbonSystems, we were able to develop an overarching data entry sheet specifically for online-NGERS reporting. This in turn took any confusion out of the data entry at the front end I believe we can even further streamline the process for the next reporting period.
James Peacock, Executive Manager, Environmental Sustainability, CBA.