• 5 min read

Improve your energy and carbon efficiency with Azure sustainability guidance

As we continue to build out our sustainability guidance to help our customers achieve their sustainability goals using Azure, our goal is to meet you where you are and help you do more with less—whether you’re building cloud-native applications, operating in hybrid environments, or evaluating solutions for organization-wide emissions reporting.

This week at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, we’re collectively focused on how to measure progress, build markets, and empower people across the globe to deliver a just, sustainable future for everyone on the planet.

It’s a pivotal moment for the world to come together to drive meaningful action to address and combat global climate change. It’s also an important event for Microsoft, where we will highlight our work to advance the sustainability of our business, share sustainability solutions for operational and environmental impact, and support the societal infrastructure for a sustainable world.

The customer signal is clear—sustainability is now a business imperative. In a study of over 1,230 business leaders across 113 countries, 81 percent of CEOs have increased their sustainability investments1. Sustainability is a top-10 business priority for the first time ever2, and carbon emissions are forecasted to become a top-three criterion for cloud purchases by 20253. The number of large cities with net zero targets has doubled since December 2020—from 115 to 2354 and the global market for green data centers is projected to grow to more than $181.9B by 20265.

Customers and partners are asking for help to understand how to meet and plan for rapidly evolving sustainability requirements, incentives, and regulations. At the same time, they’re dealing with rising energy costs and an uncertain economic environment. We’re hearing specific questions about building sustainable IT in the cloud: How to reduce current energy usage and costs, as well as carbon emissions? How can moving to the cloud help us achieve greater efficiency? What tools are available to make this easier?

To support you in navigating this learning curve, we’re announcing technical guidance and skilling offerings that can help you plan your path forward, improve your sustainability posture, and create new business value while reducing your operational footprint. And this is just the beginning – stay tuned for more announcements in the months ahead.

Accelerate your sustainability progress with Azure

Our recent On the Issues blog, Closing the Sustainability Skills Gap: Helping businesses move from pledges to progress underscores the importance of equipping companies and employees with a broad range of new skills to enable sustainable transformation. We’re investing across the company to support this skill development in myriad ways, including a broad range of technical guidance and skilling initiatives to help you achieve your sustainability goals with Azure. This week we’re announcing a set of architectural guidance resources to help you get started:

  • Azure Well-Architected Framework sustainability guidance: this documentation set describes workload optimizations for Green IT within Azure, building on the industry leadership of the Green Software Foundation and aligned to their green software principles. Because sustainability considerations apply to all five pillars: security, reliability, operational excellence, performance efficiency, and cost optimization, we approach the topic as a lens across workloads rather than a standalone pillar.
  • Azure Well-Architected Framework sustainability self-assessment: as you plan your cloud workloads, use this self-assessment to review the potential impact of your design decisions and how to optimize them for carbon and energy efficiency. You’ll also receive specific recommendations you can act on, whether you’re implementing or deploying an application or reviewing an existing application.
  • Sustainable software engineering practices in Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS): the guidance found in this article is focused on AKS services you're building or operating and includes design and configuration checklists, recommended design, and configuration options. Before applying sustainable software engineering principles to your application, we recommend reviewing the priorities, needs, and trade-offs of your application.

Supporting your sustainability journey in the cloud

With Azure, customers and partners can compound their benefits at each stage of the cloud journey, from migrating to the cloud to save on energy, carbon, and infrastructure costs, to optimizing in the cloud to achieve operational excellence, to reinvesting savings into new initiatives that will provide enduring business value.

Across industries, organizations are optimizing their cloud investments by aligning to patterns and practices in the Cloud Adoption Framework and the Well-Architected Framework. They’re also achieving market leadership through reinvesting to drive innovation. Sweden’s largest real estate company and a global leader in sustainability, Vasakronan, adopted an IoT and Digital Twins solution using Azure and expects to realize a year-on-year savings of six million kronor (USD 700,000) in energy consumption costs alone.

As part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to promote sustainable development and low-carbon business practices globally, our Azure guidance complements solutions such as Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability and Emissions Impact Dashboard for Microsoft cloud services. We’ll continue to work with customers, partners, and industry leaders, such as the Green Software Foundation to build, maintain, and promote best practices for green IT and innovation that further resilient, thriving, and just economies. From an industry-leading training company:

This is the missing ingredient in our business; it gives purpose and meaning. If you could put an overlay on your environment or applications and say here are 20 recommendations to make it optimally sustainable, reduce carbon emissions, give the data so you can make incremental improvements over the years, and manage it—that’s huge!”— Todd Fine, Chief Strategy Officer, Atmosera.

As we continue to build out our guidance to help our customers achieve their sustainability goals using Azure, our goal is to meet you where you are and help you do more with less, whether you’re building cloud-native applications, operating in hybrid environments, or evaluating solutions for organization-wide emissions reporting.

Driving sustainability skilling across your organization

Research shows that cloud skilling programs can improve business outcomes and individual career advancement, as well as accelerate success in the cloud. For this reason, we’ve published a set of resources to provide a starting place to help your people and teams understand how they can contribute to their organization’s sustainability goals while developing highly relevant skills and expertise.

  • Azure sustainability guidance Cloud Skills Challenge: Azure sustainability guidance Cloud Skills Challenge: this fun, no-cost, interactive program helps skill individuals and teams on Microsoft cloud technologies via a gamified experience utilizing Microsoft Learn content. Teams can access a custom leaderboard, and individuals can compete with industry peers.
  • Azure sustainability guidance Microsoft Learn Collection: developed as a starting point to help you find relevant learning content on Azure sustainability initiatives, share this with friends and colleagues today and check back for updates in the weeks and months ahead. You can also make it yours—we invite you to copy this collection, personalize it, and share it with your network.
  • Principles of Sustainable Software Engineering course: This Microsoft Learn module provides a primer on the eight principles of Sustainable Software Engineering, covering a wide range of topics such as electricity and carbon efficiency, carbon intensity, and how to think through the trade-offs required for optimization. Accessible to any level of learner familiar with basic computing concepts.

Get started today

These resources will help you more easily plan your strategy, improve your current sustainability posture, and foster green innovation. Use them to chart a faster path toward internal and external sustainability goals and accelerate your organization’s Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) journey. As an added benefit, sustainable workloads are also more efficient and modern, which can reduce the total cost of an application or initiative.

As you move to the cloud, you gain the advantage of our decades of action and progress on carbon, waste, water, and ecosystems within our datacenter regions. Read more about how we’re building on what we’ve learned from our sustainability journey.

We look forward to hearing how we can continue to support your sustainability journey in the cloud.


1 CEO Climate Leadership & Sustainability Study (accenture.com)
2 Carbon emissions data to become key factor in cloud purchases by 2025, predicts Gartner (computerweekly.com)
3 CEO Climate Leadership & Sustainability Study (accenture.com)
4 Net Zero Stocktake 2022 | Net Zero Tracker
5 Going Green is No Longer Optional | Data Centre Magazine