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Microsoft’s carbon neutral plan and the green future

Software giant the latest in a string of computing companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint

While productivity, protection and efficiency are high on the agenda in the modern world of IT, there is another aspect that also garners much attention – the environmental impact of computing.

With data centres and office blocks consuming vast amounts of energy to keep their systems running, many companies have come under attack for their failure to take advantage of renewable resources as the size of their carbon footprint continues to grow.

In an attempt to improve their reputation, cut expenditure and play their part in a transition towards cleaner energy, a number of organisations have looked for the best ways to implement green technology as a means to power their facilities – and Microsoft is the latest company to join the party.

"Beginning in fiscal year 2013 (which starts this July 1st), Microsoft will be carbon neutral across all our direct operations including data centres, software development labs, air travel, and office buildings," said Microsoft’s chief operating officer, Kevin Turner, on the software giant’s official blog.

Microsoft’s move reflects a growing trend of large-scale global businesses that are looking to build on their green credentials by cutting their carbon emissions, yet this is also something that is being done by smaller companies too.

The majority of SMEs may not be able to afford solar power installations that stretch over acres of land, but many opt to use services such as document scanning and team these with a secure online backup program that can store files electronically, removing the need for endless piles of paperwork.

Indeed, even reducing something as simple as the amount of paper that an office gets through can serve to scale back its carbon output, and one expert believes that employees can also play a role in this process.

"Empowering staff is the key when it comes to reducing energy usage," said Gregg Corbett, marketing director at Avery.

"Employers must understand the real difference that employees as individuals can make and the benefits that can arise directly as a result of staff actions."