Up in the air
The climate and energy challenges facing the planet are daunting. As world population accelerates toward the 8 billion mark, a growing majority of people will live in cities. Cities are home to more than half of people in the world today and will be home to nearly 70 percent of our population by 2050. These billions of new urbanites need energy—energy for lights, for heating, for cooling; energy for transportation, housing and emergency services; energy for water systems and sanitation. And they want the same conveniences and luxuries that city dwellers in developed cities already enjoy.
Faced with the mounting pressures of climate change and population growth, cities that use resources efficiently and minimize greenhouse gas emissions will lead the way, ensuring a sustainable quality of life on a global scale. Technology providers, businesses, citizens and government will need to collaborate to develop the right policies and infrastructure that drive economic growth, motivates sound behavior change and ensures the sustainability of our communities.
Microsoft is an information technology company. Just as many of our partners, like OSIsoft and Alstom Power, are leading the way in reducing the environmental impact of their products and services, Microsoft is investing in reducing the environmental impact of its IT products and services. At present, IT accounts for about two percent of the world’s energy use. That percentage is growing as demand for IT services increases, which makes it even more important for companies like Microsoft to design software and data center infrastructure that maximize performance while minimizing energy consumption. This is an issue we take very seriously, especially when it comes to the cloud.
Cloud computing is changing everything—from shared collaboration and communication experiences like Skype and Lync to hosting data, music and videos accessed by your mobile device halfway around the world. But cloud computing also presents major energy challenges as more data centers come online to meet computing demand. As organizations are starting to rethink their IT strategy, many are outsourcing IT services like email, shared calendars and video conferencing to cloud providers like Microsoft. By moving these applications to large cloud services providers, organizations can take advantage of highly efficient cloud infrastructure, effectively “outsourcing” their IT efficiency investments while helping their company achieve its sustainability goals. Microsoft commissioned a recent study, conducted by Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy, which found that customers who run common business applications in the cloud can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions on a per-user basis by 30 to 90 percent versus running those same applications on-premises.