Microsoft wants to help customers improve sustainability, so it’s betting on its Copilot AI assistant to help them reach targets

Microsoft Windows logo with Copilot logo on black background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Microsoft has announced the launch of new AI-powered sustainability tools for customers aiming to reduce their environmental impact and achieve net zero targets. 

The Copilot in Microsoft Sustainability Manager service, which is now available in preview, allows organizations to use natural language queries to gain vital insights into sustainability data.

As part of the service, users can ask Copilot to analyze environmental data, for example, or request insights into how their organizations can unlock “reduction opportunities” for water usage or their carbon footprint.

The company said the service will also allow users to draft sustainability reports, which in turn will help reduce time and “free up resources” to focus on other priorities.

Alongside the Copilot launch, Microsoft unveiled another service, dubbed Intelligent Insights in Microsoft Sustainability Manager. Also in preview, this will allow organizations to get an “integrated and interactive AI model enabling deeper analysis of calculated emissions data”.

Using this tool, customers will be able to scan their organizations’ data to identify both short and long-term reduction opportunities and cut their carbon footprints.

The move from Microsoft is the latest attempt by the company to deliver Copilot experiences across its core product offerings.

In providing the new sustainability tools, the firm said it hopes to simplify and accelerate sustainability efforts among customers, helping to reduce workloads for staff focused on driving the delivery of key environmental targets.

“As global sustainability progress becomes more pressing, organizations need tangible, transformative solutions to help them move forward faster,” Microsoft said in a statement.

“Most have not progressed as much as they’d like.”

Research from Microsoft and Kyndryl last year found that while 85% of executives report that sustainability is “strategically important” to their company, only 16% have actively integrated sustainability goals into their business strategies.

The use of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to support sustainability efforts has been growing, the study found. Six-in-ten organizations told Microsoft they use AI to monitor energy use, for example, yet only 34% use current data to predict future energy consumption.

Microsoft is all in on AI-powered sustainability efforts

This isn’t the first Microsoft service aimed at improving sustainability among customers, however. 

In May 2023, it unveiled Microsoft Fabric, an end-to-end analytics SaaS platform that allows users to collate enterprise data - including ESG data - and reduce their organizations’ environmental impact.

“With Microsoft Fabric, your teams can connect to data from anywhere, uncover insights using AI-powered analytics tools in a unified experience, and embed those insights in the applications your people use every day to drive action and improve decision-making.

“Now in preview, sustainability data solutions in Microsoft Fabric allows organizations to accelerate their time to insights and sustainability progress by providing out-of-the-box ESG data models, connectors and reporting,” Microsoft said.

Using the service, customers will be able to connect ESG data with Microsoft Fabric and “turn volumes of sustainability data into meaningful insights”, the firm added.

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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