Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Microsoft and the Environment

14th January, 2010

These days, reducing the environmental impact of activities is a top priority of enterprises, small businesses, and individuals alike.

Even if you are using energy in an efficient way, due to the global nature of the Internet and business these days, any activity is causing a global impact.

For example, one of Google’s five most massive datacentres worldwide is estimated to use 103 Megawatts of power to run; a cost mitigated (as with many other facilities like it worldwide) with the use of cheap renewal energy, in this case from a nearby hydroelectric dam.

Here is an overview of some great products and ideas that you can use and that are being developed to reduce the energy impact of your daily activities.

Smart Reduction of Home Energy Use

Microsoft Hohm is a free service available to all residences in the US, to enable families to quickly and easily estimate and improve the amount of energy they use at home.

By entering pieces of information on the website about how and when you use energy, Hohm can calculate the best and easiest ways for you to save energy (and therefore potentially a lot of money) based on what you are already doing.

It does this by combining data and algorithms from the US Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley Labs. As it is beta at the moment the service is still improving, but as more users give it a go, its recommendations will continue to improve.

Reduce in largest consumers

We’ve already heard how much power Google’s datacentres can take up and how it mitigates the impact.

Microsoft have produced a comprehensive overview of how they intend to mitigate the power requirements in their largest installations.

These include using virtualisation to improve the use of existing resources, improving datacentre quality through compliance with the relevant standards, and reducing costs and fostering innovation through the use of competitive bidding for contracts.

You may remember last year Microsoft announced its Chicago datacentre, consisting of a large number of containers housing thousands of servers each; this represents part of this initiative.

Savings for the Consumer

You don’t have to be an enterprise customer to take advantage of Microsoft’s green initiatives.

Windows 7 represents a huge step forward in reducing power and waste in personal computers.

Features such as advanced power optimisation and tools for IT managers to more effectively manage energy consumption make it easy and quicker to configure computers to use power more efficiently.

Find out more about Microsoft’s energy commitments on their Environment website.

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