Microsoft Announces Ambitious Water Stewardship, Advocacy Plans

24 Sep 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat
REDMOND WA, United States

Microsoft has announced a commitment to be water positive in its operations by 2030. The corporation described its intension to reduce its water intensity, or water used per megawatt of energy consumed, and to replenish water used in water-stressed regions of operations in a 21 September blog by its President Brad Smith.

The technology giant also supports more action outside its own operatons. Citing UN-Water and the World Bank with respect to global water availability, scarcity, and predictions of an impending water crisis, the company calls for a transformation in water management systems and greater engagement for all organisations to account for and balance water use.

Microsoft says it intends to invest in wetland restoration, including removal of impervious surfaces, where possible. Efforts will be directed to the 40 water basins where the company has operations and include a new sustainability design standard across all locations.

Measures to be deployed include rainwater harvesting, water treatment, wastewater reuse, and installation of water-efficient plumbing fixtures. New technology is to be applied to datacenters in very hot regions to “flex” water cooling mechanisms depending on external temperatures. The system is reputed to be highly efficient, using less electricity and overall utilising only about 10 Percent of previous water consumption. Solar energy will also save an estimated 350 million litres of water annually.

Partnering with Water.org, the company will work to ensure access for as many as 1.5 million people to clean drinking water and sanitation in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, China, Malaysia and South Africa.

Microsoft also commits to applying technology to improve understanding of emergent water stress and to optimise water replenishment investments within a region. Efforts will be directed to digitizing existing data and collection, correlation and analysis of it to produce “real time” assessments and predictions of water stress.

Additionally, the company will access satellite data on crop growth and farming practices in order to assess the impact on water resources, with the objective to derive water- and cost-efficiency programs.

Finally, Microsoft is investing $10 Million USD to partner with early-to expansion-stage innovators in water technologies.

In March this year Microsoft joined the Water Resilience Coalition, an initiative of the United Nations Global Compact CEO Water Mandate. In doing so, the company and the coalition’s 16 members will co-invest in availability, accessibility and quality projects in water-stressed basins.

Microsoft also pledges to use its not inconsiderably corporate voice at the local, national and global levels to promote policies that would increase water access and availability and improve quality.