Microsoft Sets New Environmental Impact Goals Around Water Usage

The company is looking to make sure that it replenishes more water than it uses by 2030.


Microsoft, like most major companies, uses a lot of water in its production processes. However, as the world becomes more aware of the unmistakable impact of climate change, and in light of the inequality of clean, drinkable water not being easily available around the world, the company is making some changes.

In a blog post, Microsoft president Brad Smith has announced that the Xbox company will work towards becoming "water positive" by 2030--that is to say, they will replenish more water than they use. "The world’s fresh water is not equally distributed or accessible and is found disproportionately in places where people do not live," the post explains. "And as human civilization has expanded, we have reached the point globally where humanity depletes the available freshwater supply at a rate of 4.3 trillion cubic meters every year--the majority of which goes to agricultural and industrial uses."

The company will address water consumption issues by reducing the water use intensity of its energy production and replenishing the "water-stressed regions" that it operates within. The post points out that 2 billion people globally do not have easy access to clean drinking water, and this must change--especially since those figures are likely to get worse over time without intervention.

"Getting ahead of the world’s water crisis will require a reduction in the amount of water humans use to operate economies and societies, as well as a concerted effort to ensure there is sufficient water in the places it is needed most," Smith says. "This will require a transformation in the way we manage our water systems and a concerted effort for all organizations to account for and balance their water use. As a global technology company Microsoft is prepared to act on both accounts, taking responsibility for our own water use and partnering on technology platforms to help others do the same."

The post then gets into the specifics of how Microsoft will address this, including the use of an on-site rainwater collection system at its new Silicon Valley campus and water-efficient plumbing systems that are being installed across their campus in Herzliya, Israel.

Microsoft has previously produced carbon neutral consoles through a test program, although there's been no suggestion that the Series X and S are carbon neutral right now. The company is also looking to become carbon negative by 2030, though.

The games industry, unfortunately, has a huge environmental footprint to contend with. Dr. Ben Abraham is currently conducting research into the extent of the games industry's complicity in climate change, and what developers are doing to lessen their impact.

For more on the climate crisis and the next generation of consoles, check out this article from our sister site CNET: Xbox, PS5 and the climate crisis: Next-gen video games could be worse for the planet.

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