November 30, 2022

Beyond Net Zero: The Bold Microsoft Negative Emissions Plan

Scott Gosling
National Practice Manager - Microsoft at Data#3
We make a lot of decisions in business, but few can be more important than the relationships we choose. An old proverb says that a man is known by the company he keeps, but should this hold equally true for organisations? Increasingly, for consumer and businesses alike, the answer is a resounding yes. We are more likely than ever to form alliances and connect with brands that represent shared values, while turning our backs on those that don’t.

One of those key values, for us at Data#3, is sustainability, and one of those relationships is our long-standing partnership with Microsoft. Microsoft set themselves some ambitious targets, including becoming carbon negative by 2030 and eradicating historic emissions by 2050. How? Through a number of exciting sustainability initiatives that set the bar high for the rest of the industry – and they are focusing plenty of investment and resources on achieving those numbers.

One of those initiatives involves heavy investment in carbon direct air capture programs, with 2.5 million tons of carbon removed from the environment to date and recycled into marketable products. They’ve also redirected more than 15,000 metric tons from landfill, so the next shiny new Microsoft product you buy is likely to be at least partly derived from waste and pollution, with minimal packaging made from recycled materials.

More innovative still is Project Natick, a research effort that is investigating the feasibility of subsea data centres that are powered via offshore renewable energy. Already in phase two, the project has seen the deployment of a full-scale data centre module in the North Sea. Data centres are notoriously energy hungry, not only to power the machines but to provide appropriate temperature and air quality. Loaded with 12 racks containing 864 servers, the initial Project Natick phases have so far demonstrated a lower than land-based failure rate and the potential for lightning-fast connectivity for coastal populations. The water effectively keeps the underwater data centre at an appropriate temperature, removing one of the biggest energy guzzlers.

Looking towards a more sustainable future

Although environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting is not yet mandatory in Australia, it is likely to be soon. Some aspects of ESG reporting, such as measuring pollution emissions, are by no means easy to do, so the recent solution releases of Microsoft Sustainability Manager and Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability are well-timed.

Both solutions help organisations to collect and centralise environmental data, so they can more easily record and report their ESG information, as well as more readily identify ways they can reduce environmental impact.

Your technology choices are significant in terms of your organisation’s sustainability, so you can expect to see environmental considerations clearly documented in every project proposal from Data#3, making it easier to feed into your ESG report.

Let’s face it, the rapid rate of technology consumption cannot be ignored when considering how the world has reached this critical environmental point. There are an estimated 16.4 billion connected devices worldwide in 2022, and this figure is set to rise to a whopping 30.9 billion by 2025. Not only does the manufacture of these devices largely depend on fast-dwindling resources, but they have also historically come heavily packaged in unsustainable materials. Unsurprisingly, customers and communities are holding the corporate world to account – and so they should.

The tech industry has much to offer when it comes to tackling the urgent environmental issues we face, not least because much of our skill lies in solving problems. Whether this takes the form of direct research projects such as underwater data centres, implementing circular economy programs, or whether it is helping other organisations to understand their current environmental footprint and track emissions, the opportunity exists to step up and facilitate meaningful change. As Microsoft’s largest Australian partner, Data#3 will continue to work alongside them to strive to reduce our environmental impact and help our customers achieve their sustainability goals with Microsoft’s smart solutions. We are happy to be judged by the company we keep.

To learn more about Data#3’s commitment to reducing our environmental impact, please view our latest sustainability report here.

This blog is the first of a series focusing on sustainability and Microsoft, the other entries in the series can be seen here:

  1. Automating ESG Reporting: What Microsoft Sustainability Manager and Cloud for Sustainability Have to Offer
  2. Devices and green credentials: does Microsoft stand up to the test?

Or if you’d like to stay up-to-date with new releases in this series as they’re published, all you have to do is fill out the form below to be the first to know.