Microsoft achieves carbon neutrality across its manufacturing operations

Microsoft has, as of July 1, 2015, achieved carbon neutrality across its manufacturing operations.

The software company’s data centers, software development labs, offices and business air travel have been carbon neutral since July 2012.

Microsoft was able to achieve carbon neutrality across its global operations due to its internal carbon fee. The program puts a price on carbon and makes the company’s business divisions responsible for the cost of reducing and compensating for the carbon emissions associated with their electricity use and air travel.

To ensure alignment across its widespread organization, the company established a steering and governance body called the Carbon Neutral Council. Working with this body, Microsoft designed its model to be simple and repeatable, following easy-to-follow steps for implementation.

Since launching the carbon fee in 2012, the company has purchased more than 10 million MWh of green power and reduced emissions by 7.5 million metric tons.

During fiscal year 2015, Microsoft also purchased more than 3 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable energy — equal to 100 percent of its global electricity use — and became the second largest user of green power in the U.S. Also, Microsoft says that 23 percent of the electricity used to power its operations comes from directly purchased renewable energy.

Microsoft has invested $3.1 million in carbon-fee funded efficiency projects and other energy efficiency projects, which have reduced the company’s associated carbon emissions by 18,179 metric tons and resulted in $3.6 million in energy savings. Overall, the carbon fee program has saved Microsoft around $10 million per year.