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March 13, 2012

Microsoft News - Microsoft Closes in on Capture of 'Most Wanted' Data through Contract with CarbonSystems

By Cheryl Kaften, TMCnet Contributor

To date, tracking a carbon footprint has been like looking for the Loch Ness monster. You believe it’s there, but you don’t know how to provide proof and documentation.

Now, Microsoft Corporation has gone through “a vigorous worldwide tender process,” according to David Solsky, chief executive officer of Sydney, Australia-based CarbonSystems, to find a way to turn its disparate, detailed, and monumental amount of carbon data into actionable information.

Microsoft’s (News - Alert) system of choice – the CarbonSystems Enterprise Sustainability Platform (ESP) – is a cloud-based application that manages energy, efficiency, and environmental-performance reporting.

“There are a number of exciting things that this deal with Microsoft represents,” said Solsky. “First of all, I think it’s really a coming of age for CarbonSystems and it’s going to crystallize the view in many minds that we truly are a global player in data sustainability and software.”

Microsoft has been reporting its carbon emissions, energy, and, more recently, water use, through the not-for-profit Carbon Disclosure Project for the last seven years. With 90,000 employees, working in 640 buildings across 112 countries, this is “the type of challenge we enjoy, and one that we think information technology is in a unique position to address,” according to Josh Henretig, director, Environmental Sustainability, for the company.

What he sees in CarbonSystems ESP is a platform that automatically captures and extracts data from a myriad of sources, including smart meters, energy providers, suppliers, waste processors, internal business systems, and even paper-based documents.

“Collecting data on such a large scale will help us improve our reporting processes and make publishing our environmental impact to organizations like the Carbon Disclosure Project easier,” said Henretig, adding, “We are also excited about the opportunities to integrate powerful analytics that add intelligence to our existing systems, helping us uncover even more opportunities to understand the impact of our operations and identify areas where we can improve.”

As a cloud-based data management engine, ESP facilitates global electronic data interchange (EDI) with internal systems and third-party suppliers. According to Henretig, using the CarbonSystems ESP will enable Microsoft to:

Streamline the tracking and reporting process of critical energy and environmental data, providing a more complete picture of the company’s overall environmental impact;

Use performance analytics to prioritize and improve decision-making (like identifying travel reduction opportunities to save money and carbon emissions); and

Understand and verify the impact of efficiency investment and initiatives, such as airside economization for data centers.

In addition, CarbonSystems will gain more than a customer from its relationship with Microsoft. “I think there are a number of platform enhancement opportunities that we are going to be able to benefit from,” commented Solsky. “In terms of strategic alignment, this is a fantastic opportunity.”

London-based research firm Verdantix says Microsoft’s adoption of a single software platform to manage its sustainability performance underscores a global trend to standardize the capture and management of unrelated, nonfinancial data – such as energy, emissions, and other environmental metrics.

Verdantix CEO David Metcalfe said, “Many organizations struggle to capture and integrate sustainability data, sourced from different localities, as they strive for a single version of the truth. By adopting the CarbonSystems solution, Microsoft will have one platform for managing and reporting non-financial sustainability.”

“Microsoft is committed to measuring, transparently reporting, and minimizing the carbon footprint of our operations,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft. “We view CarbonSystems as a key part of our effort to achieve Microsoft’s business and environmental sustainability goals.”

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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