Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s Green Czar talks clean tech

Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s Green Czar talks clean tech

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh DialoguesRob Bernard of Microsoft on Fresh Dialogues

On Monday, I was invited to Greens Restaurant in San Francisco to meet Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist, Rob Bernard. We then joined a small group of  researchers and media to discuss  Microsoft’s efforts to lower its carbon footprint and leverage information technology globally to address climate change and other environmental issues. The sun setting beyond Golden Gate Bridge was an apt backdrop for the conversation.

Cambridge scientist, Rich Williams (one of Microsoft’s 1000-strong Ph.D. researchers)  emphasized that environmental challenges go beyond climate change and counting carbon footprints, “Just reducing CO2 to zero – and all will be fine – is not our goal.” The researchers have broader perspectives that take into account water resources, migration patterns, and longer term “blue sky” projects.

Joining the discussion were Eric Berlow, Director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute field station in Yosemite, Surj Patel of the Gigaom Network; and Peter May and Matt Wheeland of Greenworld Media.

Rob Bernard talks with Alison van Diggelen Fresh DialoguesRob and I had a lively conversation which covered:

The roots of his green passion

Where Microsoft’s greatest energy reduction opportunities lie and how he plans to cross the chasm

How the company plans to leverage and scale IT to impact the world’s environment

Steve Ballmer’s recent announcement re. Cloud Computing and how that will impact server design and energy efficiency targets

Microsoft’s Ingenuity Point Competition showcasing and supporting green software companies, eg Green Building (Santa Rosa) and TR Controls (London)

How Microsoft leads by example at its Mountain View campus

Free Verdiem Edison software that allows optimization of desktop power settings for Windows

The interview was recorded on Monday March 23, 2009

Listen to Microsoft’s Rob Bernard on Fresh Dialogues

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Check back next week for part II of the interview when Rob answers:Greens Restaurant San Fransicco A Fresh Dialogues favorite

Why Microsoft is late to the green world (or at least late in talking about its green initiatives)

Why the 2008 Green Peace Report ranking for Microsoft was so low and what he’s doing about it

Microsoft’s Climate Change research and modeling

How he plans to emphasize the urgency of action