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Microsoft has adopted Australian software as its new standard for managing its environmental-performance and tracking the software giant’s commitment to become carbon neutral.
Australian company CarbonSystems’ Enterprise Sustainability Platform (ESP) is being adopted across Microsoft’s global operations, comprising over 600 facilities in 110 countries.
Microsoft chose CarbonSystems’ cloud-based software after an extensive and rigorous eighteen month tender process, selecting the Australian company over more than fifty other well-known software providers such as SAP, CA Technologies, Ecova and PE International.
Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, said Microsoft will be measuring, transparently reporting and minimising the carbon footprint of its operations.
“CarbonSystems ESP will enable us to efficiently collect, analyse and share environmental data,” he said, adding that the ESP platform would deliver new levels of understanding about the resources Microsoft uses.
On 10 May 2011, Microsoft management went further with their commitment to environmental sustainability when the company announced that they wanted to achieve carbon neutrality for Microsoft’s energy use during the fiscal year beginning 1 July, 2012.
To achieve this goal Microsoft plans to levy an internal carbon fee for carbon emissions covering its direct operations around the world, including its data centres, software development labs, air travel, and office buildings.
The internal carbon price and charge-back model will provide an economic incentive for business groups across Microsoft to reduce carbon emissions through efficiency measures and increased use of renewable energy.
A software solution
David Solsky, chief executive and co-founder of CarbonSystems, said that the ESP is a software solution for streamlining the capture, reporting and management of environmental data such as energy, fuel, gas, water, waste and other carbon emissions.
The software uses intelligent data hubs that manage data capture and processing from across the world. Organisational data can be captured from many sources, including smart meters, supplier reports, internal business systems and paper based documents. The data is processed within minutes and made available online to clients via a web browser.
Mr Solsky noted that companies today are under increasing pressure about transparency in sustainability and that the big challenge is that the data is ‘very distributed’.
“The facility guys have some [data], the procurement department has some...” He said that the major challenge in sustainability reporting is to get all the data to one place and make sure it is of good quality.
“That’s the number one challenge we solve,” he said. He explained that CarbonSystems’ proprietary tool set helps companies map and collect the data they hold in various departments and automatically extract this data to be uploaded to the cloud.
CarbonSystems’ cloud based platform operates out of four of their data centres – two located in Australia, and two in the United States.
Simplify and streamline
Mr Solksy said that the fact Microsoft went to market and chose CarbonSystems was a defining moment for them. “Hopefully it can give some fantastic fuel for more contracts outside of Australia.”
He believes CarbonSystems won the contract because of the company’s ability to use cloud computing to simplify and streamline Microsoft’s global greenhouse gas management.
Ralph Breslauer, who heads CarbonSystems’ operations in the Americas, said he believes that Microsoft’s decision to invest in supported, enterprise software instead of using spreadsheets “dramatically and decisively ends the debate about whether spreadsheets are sufficient for tracking sustainability for large companies”.
“This market dynamic dovetails with the suite of applications, analytics and data management capabilities Microsoft is bringing to market through Windows Azure, its enterprise-grade cloud platform,” Mr Breslauer observed.
“Microsoft’s adoption of ESP complements its goal of leveraging technology to reduce energy use, emissions, and waste by harnessing data to make more informed decisions about the company’s resource use.”
Developed to read smart meters
CarbonSystems’ core technology was originally developed in 2004 to read electricity smart meters, and although the company entered the sustainability software market only three years ago, it already has more than 110 clients all over the world. Major clients include the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Canon, CSIRO, Deloitte and Fuji Xerox.
In Australia, CarbonSystems technology is used across diverse sectors, including corporate property management, education, electricity and gas, government, food services, fast moving goods distribution, information technology, managed services, mining, logistics, and professional services.
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.