Microsoft launches platform to help firms monitor carbon emissions

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability will help organisations to meet their net zero targets

Microsoft has launched a preview of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability to help organisations monitor their carbon emissions, as it tries to implement more green policies at the same time.

The platform will allow organisations to more effectively record, report, and reduce their carbon emissions on a path to net zero, Microsoft said. The SaaS product connects to data sources and centralises an organisation’s data in a common format to provide a more accurate system of record that enables comprehensive, integrated, and automated sustainability management.

Microsoft said this can help organisations set and meet sustainability targets and provide actionable insights and reduction strategies too. The platform breaks down data silos across emissions sources and streamlines data ingestion, sharing, calculations, and reporting through its open-source common data model.

“It’s hard to improve or change what you can’t measure,” said Noelle Walsh, CVP of Cloud Operations and Innovation. “The world needs global standards –a common foundation to ensure carbon emissions are measured in an accurate, consistent, and reliable manner globally – and innovative technology solutions to reduce carbon emissions and our environmental impact.”

A screen capture of Microsoft's Cloud for Sustainability platform

Microsoft

The company is also taking a new approach to data centre temperature management, which will further reduce the amount of water used in its evaporative cooled data centres globally by 95% by 2024, or an estimated 5.7 billion litres annually.

Through its research, it is able to create higher set points for different climates for when water-based evaporative cooling is necessary to preserve server performance and reliability. This has the potential to eliminate water used for cooling in regions like Amsterdam and Chicago, while reducing water use in desert regions like Arizona by as much as 60%.

The tech giant revealed its latest research into liquid cooling in data centres which is focused on overclocking, where chip components are operated beyond their predefined voltage, thermal, and power design limits to further improve performance. Microsoft found that for some chipsets, the performance can increase by 20% through the use of liquid cooling.

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It said this shows how the technique supports its sustainability goals to reduce and eliminate water use, but also generate more performant chips operating at warmer coolant temperatures for advanced AI and ML workloads.

Lastly, Microsoft revealed it is on track to building between 50 and 100 new data centres each year in response to customer demand. To reduce embodied carbon in the design and construction of these data centres, the emissions associated with materials and construction processes, the company will use the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool to identify building materials that reduce it. Through EC3, it has been able to reduce concrete and steel embodied carbon by 30-60%.

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