WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

A study for microsoft demonstrating the environmental benefits of digital software distribution

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Courtesy of Courtesy of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

A carbon footprint Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy found that replacing traditional distribution of DVD/CD disk kit software with electronic
software distribution (ESD) can result in a 91% reduction in carbon emissions for most Microsoft Volume Licensing1 (VL) customers. Leading standards were applied to calculate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from both
physical and electronic media software distribution such as disk manufacturing & distribution activities and electricity use. If Enterprise Agreement (EA), EA Subscription, and Select License VL customers were to choose electronic distribution through Microsoft’s Volume License Service Center, they would have the potential to collectively reduce 4,058 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the term of their VL contract, which is typically three years. According to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator2, this quantity of emissions is approximately equal to:
  • 9,437 barrels of oil consumed, or
  • The electricity use of 563 homes for one year, or
  • Carbon sequestered annually by 922 acres of pine or fi r forest

Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy found that Microsoft encourages Volume Licensing customers to choose
digital downloading of their business software products and updates through its Digital by Choice promotional
campaign. While fi nancial motives surely exist as a driver for this campaign, there is also a strong motivation to understand and account for the environmental impacts of software distribution. This study of a select set of Microsoft Volume Licensing customers demonstrates the potential for broader GHG emission reduction benefi ts across Microsoft’s business and the software industry as a whole, when customers choose digital software fulfi llment.

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