How Microsoft is going green

Microsoft, with 70,000 employees spread out across the world, is deep into a corporate-wide evaluation of how it can become a more environmentally friendly corporation.

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"I think the real story with the building is the size and scale, the proximity to transmission-grade power, the dedicated onsite substation and the outside air-cooling efficiency. That is where the real sizzle is," says Phil Horstmann, founder and CEO of Ascent, which has been building and operating datacentres since 1998.

The building sits on 12 acres and connects to the power grid at 138,000 volts, which is about eight times higher than typical connection voltage, Horstmann says. The connection provides a very efficient power supply and makes the building one of the most powerful datacentre developments in the United States, he says. He would not reveal construction costs for the building.

For the inside of its datacentres, Microsoft has come up with a set of design classes for energy efficiency and created standards around such things as server and rack configurations.

"It is really about how we take these designs and how they fit into the local area," says Mike Manos, senior director of datacentre services for Microsoft. "Which design is going to give you the biggest impact, the most servers, the most efficient power with the most sustainability."

Up to old tricks?

Like all other service providers, Microsoft won't discuss specifics about its internal configurations and power-saving tricks, deeming those a competitive advantage that improves profits.

Those that have been on the inside, however, say Microsoft is doing cutting-edge work.

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