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Microsoft shares update on datacenter energy sustainability tracking methods

Microsoft Logo 2022
Microsoft Logo 2022 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft CVP Noelle Walsh shared an update on the company's Azure blog about how Redmond keeps track of its datacenters' energy usage.
  • Walsh acknowledged Microsoft's disappointing Scope 3 emissions results from a report released earlier in 2022.

On Earth Day 2022, Microsoft CVP Noelle Walsh took to the Azure blog (opens in new tab) to provide an update about how the company keeps tabs on its datacenter energy usage. The figures Walsh shared offer a firsthand glimpse into Microsoft's mindset regarding ensuring Azure operations don't tank overall sustainability goals.

Microsoft's Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metrics are based on a simple formula: PUE equals the total energy needed for a facility divided by the total energy used for computing. Microsoft's goal is to get the PUE value to one or close thereto. The company's newest datacenters have a PUE of 1.12. Its operating PUE differs across regions, with a particularly high and undesirable number in the Asia Pacific region due to hot climates and additional energy expenses on cooling.

Microsoft Pue

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft has a similar equation for Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE). "WUE is calculated by dividing the number of liters of water used for humidification and cooling by the total annual amount of power (measured in kWh) needed to operate our datacenter IT equipment," Walsh stated in the blog. Like with energy, WUE values are much higher than one in the "Asia Pacific" category due to heightened cooling needs.

Microsoft Wue

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft acknowledges there's more work to be done to help reduce energy usage and ensure its operations are sustainable, even when it comes to factors not completely under its control such as Scope 3 emissions. If you want to see practical, consumer-level applications of Microsoft's ecological initiatives, check out its mouse made with recycled ocean plastics.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to

  • PUE was cool 15 years ago, now you need to track in real time, and product produced.
    1.) How much compute do you get per kWh (you can have a great PUE but the servers are not doing any work... a waste)
    3.) Need to account for the variation of CO2e intensity, (CO2e/kWh), at a varying rate for every 30min period in the year. (Hint - the variance is high) learn to shift your compute to lower carbon intensity locations where the carbon intensity is less for that period of time..... saves money too!)
    4.) All generated power must also consider the scope 3 emissions created in order to generate that power
  • I'm tracking with you on PUE vs kWh/computing, but I'm going to have to read up on CO2e. My question is, won't companies want to compute as efficiently as possible anyway, as that translates directly to the bottom line? And if so, wouldn't PUE still be a reasonable unit of measurement?
  • Right. This is why I purchase a product or service. NOT. I cannot tell you just how much I DON'T care about energy effectiveness. In fact, I'm much less likely to support you if you stink of ESG.
  • I agree 100%... it is all for show. ESG is nothing more than a pretty face on pile of "*&^" Having been in the space I can tell you it is full of political activists, that get paid well by the company they seek to destroy, in order that they might selfishly acquire more power.
  • Comment #1 above made you sound so reasonable. Comment #2 here makes you sound like you stalk congresswomen on Twitter.
  • The truth, like with most of us, likely lies somewhere in the middle. He isn't wrong that most of the corporate ESG stuff is mostly virtue signaling/advertising. If companies thought their general customer base wanted something different, most of them would do that instead. Same goes for most politicians unfortunately.