Microsoft released its 2nd annual sustainability report, and we are thrilled to be included. Our joint solution with Microsoft and Sony’s intelligent vision sensors allowed us to gather anonymous occupancy data so that the building’s HVAC systems no longer run for empty rooms — reducing energy waste by over 30%. Moreover, this collaboration helps us offer our solution at 50% of the cost, making it even more accessible for customers.
So, in honor of Microsoft’s 2021 Sustainability Report, we decided to look at the progress toward net-zero and evaluate what’s next.
- Are carbon emissions decreasing?
While 2020 showed promise of lowering carbon emissions, it was short-lived. Unfortunately, as the world opened back up, 2021 carbon emissions soared — eliminating nearly all the gains from the previous year. Carbon emissions climbed to almost 36.4 billion tons as the world returned to work and travel. In fact, Microsoft’s report also shows that their carbon emissions were up 21.5 percent in the 12 months through June 2021, after small declines in 2020 and 2019.[Image Source: Statista]
However, 2021 wasn’t all bad news. For one, renewable energy saw 10% global growth, which is a step in the right direction. We also saw an increase in international commitments to reduce carbon emissions during the COP26 summit and domestic pledges, with initiatives like The Climate Pledge gaining traction.
But if we plan to meet the U.S. target of decreasing carbon emissions by 50-52% by 2030, we need to do more. Ultimately, we must figure out how to bend the emissions curve, even though there’s no shortage of obstacles to net zero.
- What’s the delay?
The importance of reducing carbon emissions is well documented, yet progress has been slow. So, the question is: what’s in the way?
The initial push to reduce CO2 focused on switching away from energy sources like coal to renewable sources – hydro, wind, and solar. Sadly, switching to renewable energy is more complicated than predicted. As of 2020, renewable energy only accounted for 12% of energy consumption.
While renewable energy is growing, energy demands increase more quickly than growth. The ever-expanding energy demands are one of the main reasons fossil fuels like coal are still used. Russia’s tragic invasion in the Ukraine, in addition to causing immense human pain, is unfortunately accelerating this.
And since clean energy hasn’t caught up, industries have turned to alternative ways to combat their carbon footprint — carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are a useful way to get to net-zero once companies have eliminated what they can, but many offsets won’t become effective for countering emissions for years.
Because neither renewable energy nor carbon offsets will solve the emissions problem overnight, we need to focus on what we can do now. The first step is to reduce energy demand where we can, and the easiest way to decrease demand is to tackle the “low-hanging fruit” — the systems already in use that can trim waste.
- What’s next?
As with any undertaking, it helps to break it into phases. Currently, eliminating wasted energy demand, and thus, carbon emissions is step one. It’s a move every business can take while we overcome more complex challenges. Where can they start?
Considering that HVAC outputs account for over 40% of most buildings’ energy consumption, you can see why it’s an ideal place to begin. Buildings that contain large amounts of shared spaces – all-purpose or conference rooms, for example – are wasting energy on heating, cooling, and ventilation while the spaces sit empty. This doesn’t have to be the case.
In the past, the options were to continue to waste energy or have a space that could only be used on a predetermined schedule, but now we can do better. Microsoft recognizes the power of Nomad Go to lower carbon emissions, and we’re proud to stand with Microsoft in its push for sustainability.
Learn more about our climate change solution with Microsoft and Sony here to see occupancy-based HVAC with Nomad Go AI.