Microsoft’s City of the Future

Microsoft Redmond CampusMicrosoft is not know for its creativity or sustainable practices. However, the IT giant has quietly turned its head office into the city of the future.

Microsoft’s 500 acre campus in Redmond, Washington, has 125 buildings for their 41,664 employee headquarters. And for the past three years it has been turned into one of the smartest corporate campuses in the world.

Unconnected sensors
How have they done it? Director of Facilities and Energy Darrell Smith and his team have diligently unified a network of 30,000 unconnected sensors from different areas. These sensors had been acquired over several decades and were not compatible.

The challenge they faced was that it would cost upward of $60 million to replace enough equipment to get all the sensors to work together. Additionally, it would also mean displacing employees and losing work while teams temporarily shut down labs.

Unfortunately, they could not find a cheaper alternative. So they invented one.

The software that the team built strings together 30,000 building sensors that track things such as heaters, air conditioners, fans and lights – harvesting billions of data points per week. That data – collected in The Redmond Operations Center (the ROC) – has given the team deep insights, enabled better diagnostics and has allowed for far more intelligent decision making.

A test run of the program in 13 Microsoft buildings has provided staggering results – not only has Microsoft saved energy and millions in maintenance and utility costs, but the company also is hyper-aware of the way its buildings perform.

1.5M savings
In one building garage, exhaust fans had been mistakenly left on for a year wasting USD 66,000. Within moments of coming online, the smart buildings solution sniffed out this fault and the problem was corrected.

In another building, the software informed engineers about a pressurization issue in a chilled water system. The problem took less than five minutes to fix, resulting in USD 12,000 of savings each year.

In the past, manual efforts to make the building run more efficiently resulted in annual savings of USD 250,000. Today, the ROC functions as the “brain” of the Microsoft Redmond campus and with the new data gold rush they are able to save USD 1.5 million.

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