Microsoft consolidates labs to reduce carbon footprint

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Microsoft consolidates labs to reduce carbon footprint

Aims for 30 percent power reductions.

Microsoft has built a new centre at its Redmond headquarters that it says will cut the company's carbon footprint by 12,000 metric tons per year.

Dubbed Redmond Ridge 1, the centre will consolidate Microsoft's research laboratory servers from individual product groups with the corporate systems that process other corporate data. When Redmond Ridge comes online in April 2010 it will give major power efficiencies said Microsoft.

“The opening of Redmond Ridge is a big milestone and represents a real transition point in the company’s culture,” said Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist.

“This facility is a great example of how technology can help improve the energy efficiency of a company’s operations.”

The building has been designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, with air heat exchangers built in to keep the temperature down. Air conditioning only kicks in if the temperature rises above 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The move is however causing something of a cultural shift at Microsoft. Engineers developing new code are for the first time physically removed from the servers testing it.

“It was a challenge to get people to make the shift that the machines could be physically remote,”said Bill Laing, corporate vice president of the Windows Server and Solutions Division.

“To me, the move substantially changed the way we thought about the products. It was also just good environmental practices. When we initially talked about the idea of this facility we didn’t care if it was five miles away or 500. We thought it was the right direction to go in.”

The company will not say how much of its computing it intends to centralise but has the stated aim of cutting its carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2012.

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