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What Microsoft’s new app says about the digitalization of sustainability | Greenbiz GreenBizWhat Microsoft’s new app says about the digitalization of sustainability | Greenbiz GreenBizWhat Microsoft’s new app says about the digitalization of sustainability | Greenbiz GreenBiz

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There are many early-stage startups that are developing software applications for carbon accounting and emission management. One such startup is Sinai Technologies. They work on analytics to help businesses establish a carbon price. The category is becoming more popular as corporate interest increases in sustainability metrics integration and management. However, this category is also attracting the attention of established enterprise software companies.
Two years ago, Salesforce was the first company to go public with its homegrown reporting platform and launched the Sustainability Cloud. Two other formidable companies now claim their spot.
ServiceNow, which assists companies like Airbus, MGM, and Wayfair to manage their internal processes and workflows, was the first to announce an integrated ESG platform. It announced it in mid-October. The application integrates with EcoVadis, which allows companies to monitor ESG practices within their supplier networks. Watershed, a tool that measures, reports and reduces carbon, is also available. This tool is used by companies such as Airbnb, Doordash and Stripe. ServiceNow has also partnered with the Value Reporting Foundation. This foundation controls the SASB framework and the Global Reporting Initiative.
Today, Microsoft, the world’s largest software firm, officially joins the mix by releasing a preview edition of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability. The company, like Salesforce, is using processes it has developed internally to support its corporate sustainability strategy and reporting to create an offering that can be sold to other companies.
MIcrosoft’s sustainability strategy has been a model for many other tech companies. It was the first company to establish an internal carbon price to allow them to invest in renewable energy projects. The company has been a leader in aggressively supporting carbon removal projects, and not just initiatives aimed at reducing emissions.

The application can calculate and report on Scope 1 and 2 emissions using data automatically gathered from connections to other enterprise applications such as energy management systems. This application promises near real-time visibility to these metrics, which is almost impossible with the manual processes sustainability teams currently use.
“Organizations need to have a system that allows them to see their emissions and understand if they are working,” Kees Hertogh (general manager for global industry marketing at Microsoft) said last week during a briefing about the new product and updated information about the company’s strategy for sustainable data centers and renewable energy.
“It should provide ongoing intelligence and actual insight to guide further reduction. It’s more than just reporting requirements. Investors, lenders, and consumers already reward organizations that lead in sustainability.
Hertogh stated that the application could become a new system for record that can be used alongside other mission-critical business systems. He said that organizations can use the data to predict trends and make proactive changes to reach their sustainability targets.
Robin Smith, a Microsoft product manager, demonstrated the software to show how a fictional global coffee company could use it to track the impact on products, business divisions, and facilities, as well as track progress towards specific business objectives. A dashboard displays the status of initiatives. It can, for example, designate an activity as “on-track” or “at danger” against a commitment. Data is imported from other operational systems, such as the database that manages information about energy purchases from fuel providers or utilities.
Grupo Bimbo, a Mexican food company, is an early customer of the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainable. Raul Obregon (the company’s chief information officer and transformation officer) stated that they strongly believe that all organizations must work together towards a common goal, which is the well-being and health of the planet. Solutions that promote a standard in measurement, make it easier to record global information, and help us achieve net zero carbon emissions are essential to reaching that common goal, such as Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability.
Microsoft has not shared pricing information about the software. However, it will be represented in the over 64,000 business partners, developers, and service providers that sell Microsoft products. This will increase the visibility of carbon accounting software tools with chief information officers, developers and service providers that sell Microsoft products. They are not usually central to ESG data gathering and emissions.

More detailed information about cloud computing operations
Apart from the new business application, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and Google, are trying to differentiate their respective services through a variety of initiatives, including clean energy sourcing arrangements to their data centers, advanced electronic waste management practices, and software that allows companies to measure and report the impact on their business applications.
Google launched a Carbon Footprint product to all cloud service customers in October. It allows them to track their “gross carbon emissions” and the electricity they use. The dashboard was developed in collaboration with customers such as Etsy, HSBC and L’Oreal.
“The ability to measure and understand the environmental footprints of public cloud usages is one of the key axes in our sustainable tech roadmap,” stated Herve Dumas (L’Oreal sustainability IT director), in a statement.
Dumas stated that Google Cloud Carbon Footprint allows us to track the impact of sustainable infrastructure and architecture principles. L’Oreal’s strategic ambition is beauty tech: to invent the beauty and company of the future. Sustainable tech is an imperative and a very important step towards this ambition of creating responsible beauty for our consumers, and sustainable-by-design tech services for our employees.” (By the by, this is the first time that I have seen a title like this, but it’s an important role that I believe cannot be over-appreciated.

It should provide ongoing intelligence and actual insight to guide further reductions. It’s more than just meeting reporting requirements.

However, the commitment of the Google Cloud team goes beyond tracking. These updates include resources to help companies identify areas where they can reduce their IT operations (such as idle servers or applications that could need to be shut down, reducing carbon emissions). The company will also be adding its Earth Engine satellite imagery on its Google Cloud platform to help businesses get a better understanding of their climate risks. It could be used to help with commodity sourcing and land management. (This feature is available in preview edition.
Microsoft released a similar resource the next day, the Microsoft Emissions Impact Dashboard. The tool allows customers to estimate the emissions savings by moving existing applications to Microsoft cloud services.
Amazon has not been as open to similar tools, but it has made statements about making its cloud computing resources available for climate scientists and researchers through its Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative.
All three companies have also been focused on sourcing large amounts of renewable energy for their huge data centers.
According to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance’s deal tracker, Amazon was the largest corporate purchaser of clean power in 2020 with slightly over 3.1 gigawatts worth of contracts. Google came in second place with slightly more than 1 GW of additional contracts. Both companies, along with Microsoft, are in the top five when taken together over time.
Microsoft revealed that it had signed power purchase agreements for 5.8GW of renewable energy in 10 countries during the last twelve months. Microsoft is also announcing what amounts to a commitment of providing around-the-clock renewable electricity to its data centers through its 100/100/0 promise. Microsoft is adding to its 100% renewable energy supply pledge by 2025 by “committing to have 100 per cent of our electricity consumption 100 percent of the times matched by zero carbon energy purchase by 2030.” Google made a similar promise two years ago.

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