The Recession, major climate events, and rising oil prices have placed new pressures on the global marketplace. Austerity measures in Europe have lead to increased uncertainty about the strength of Western economies. That uncertainty, in combination with increased productivity in countries like China and India, as well as innovative renewable energy strategies in countries like Brazil, is shifting global economic strength to the East and South.
With increased international competition, eroding consumer confidence, unprecedented strain on our natural resources, and rising levels of socio-economic discontent, companies face a unique challenge not only to produce innovative products that solve everyday problems for consumers, but also to stand out in a meaningful way by blending economic profitability with social responsibility and environmental stewardship.
We’re beginning to see the implementation of bold sustainability strategies from companies around the globe that recognize environmental and social issues as critical to long-term business success, risk mitigation, and legal compliance. A report by Deloitte entitled ‘Towards Zero Impact Growth: Strategies of leading companies in 10 industries’ highlights steps that companies such as Puma, Nike Nestle, Unilever, Natura and Ricoh are taking towards greater sustainability.
One U.S.-based company that has caught my attention with a recent enterprising sustainability move is Microsoft, which announced its plan in May to become carbon neutral across all direct operations by July 1, 2012.
In Microsoft’s own words: "Beginning in fiscal year 2013 (which started this July 1), Microsoft will be carbon neutral across all our direct operations including data centers, software development labs, air travel, and office buildings. We recognize that we are not the first company to commit to carbon neutrality, but we are hopeful that our decision will encourage other companies large and small to look at what they can do to address this important issue."
To achieve this goal, Microsoft will implement an internal carbon fee in offices across the globe in more than 100 countries, which will make each business division responsible for the cost of offsetting its own carbon emissions. The company will purchase renewable energy and carbon offsets for emissions not eliminated through efficiency measures, and the price for excess carbon emissions will be determined based on market pricing for renewable energy and carbon offsets.
Microsoft has set a laudable corporate objective to be ‘lean, green and be accountable,’ which it will achieve by using software to increase energy efficiency in its buildings, purchasing renewable energy, using technology for virtual meetings to decrease air travel, carefully measuring its carbon footprint, and retrofitting existing data centers with LED lighting, economizers, compressor energy reduction, and efficient HVAC systems.
Not only will these steps enable Microsoft to add another arrow to its PR quiver, but it also will save a projected $1.5 million on energy costs in fiscal year 2013, with an ROI in 18 months.
For more information on Microsoft’s carbon neutral strategy, read its recently published whitepaper, “Becoming Carbon Neutral: How Microsoft is Becoming Lean, Green, and Accountable.”
What bold steps is your company taking to become more sustainable? Write to me at email@example.com, follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.
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Posted: 8/16/2012 1:12:48 PM by
Mary Kestner | with 1 comments