I’m already about halfway through my time as the Power Down for the Planet intern, and a lot of exciting things have happened so far. I’m going to dedicate the next couple of posts to the trips I’ve been taking to Climate Savers Computing member companies Microsoft, Google, and HP.
My first big trip was to downtown Seattle to visit the Microsoft office. Not only was it my first big trip for Power Down, but it was also my first big work trip . . . EVER. I must say, it was a pretty interesting experience and I learned a lot about how Microsoft does its part to be sustainable, and how they motivate others to do the same.
One of the first folks I met was Francois Ajenstat, Microsoft’s Director of Environmental Sustainability. We talked about his role at Microsoft and how he motivates the company and consumers to use technology more sustainably. Francois loves that Power Down is all about engagement, and that it encourages students to take small steps — like initiating power management on their computers — to make a global impact. He’s right: Last year’s Power Down campaign helped offset hundreds of tons of CO2 emissions through computer power management. Check out the footage of our conversation, which I’ve included in the video-log of my trip. Thanks, Francois, for being my first Power Down interview!
During my visit, I also had a chance to sit down with Mark Hayes, Microsoft’s Higher Education Solution Strategist and Steve Lippman, Microsoft’s Director of Environmental Engagement. Mark, Steve, and I talked about a lot of the education- and sustainability-focused programs that Microsoft has sponsored over the years. My personal favorite: The Imagine Cup. It’s a global competition that challenges teams of young people to find solutions to the world’s most pressing issues through technology, innovation, and creativity. From designing mobile obesity-prevention applications to enabling access to quality education and creating games that teach disease prevention, there’s almost no limit to what teams create. Each year’s Imagine Cup has a different theme. For 2011, the theme is pretty ambitious — participants are asked to tackle the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. When Mark and Steve said the Imagine Cup is like the “Geek Olympics,” I was totally sold. I want to sign up!
We also talked about “Hohm,” an awesome home-energy-use application that Microsoft created. This free app allows homeowners to get a custom home-energy report from their utility provider that includes personalized energy-savings recommendations. Coolest part: Users can compare their energy savings with that of others in their area. Steve explained that when homeowners see how green their home is compared to their neighbors’, it often motivates them to change their energy behavior to get ahead or stay ahead. Hey, a little friendly competition never hurt anyone!
Steve and Mark also mentioned that all of the cups, plates, bowls, etc. on Microsoft campuses around the world are 100 percent compostable. Sounded pretty awesome, but the full meaning didn’t hit me until I happened to walk by a row of trashcans and recycling bins at the end of my first day at Microsoft. The trashcans were nearly empty next to the compost bins, which were overflowing. It was so beautiful; I just wanted to take a photo of it. Would that be strange?
The next day, I attended my first official Power Down for the Planet in-person meeting with the planning committee. There were representatives from a bunch of different companies and schools, including Microsoft, Intel, and Presidio Graduate School, which made me a little nervous — it was my first real business meeting, after all. Fortunately, everyone on the committee was really nice, and it was exciting to be there and meet the people I’d talked to over the phone for the last several weeks. We spent the meeting throwing ideas around about the direction of the Power Down campaign. Since I was the only college student in the room, they asked me a lot of questions about what we can do to encourage students to participate in the Power Down campaign. It was awesome to be part of the brainstorming process. I’m excited to see how the ideas and strategies we talked about during the meeting affect the Power Down for the Planet campaign.
I had a seriously great time at Microsoft! It was fun to meet the people behind Microsoft’s education and sustainability initiatives and to hang out with the Power Down committee.
My Google and HP trips are up next, so stay tuned to hear all about my adventures in the Bay Area!
Until next time,
My name is Jenny Le and I am the student representative for the Power Down for the Planet Summer Internship. Read More