With increasing public concern about climate change, both businesses and consumers will require more and more transparency on the real carbon footprint of the services that they buy.

At DCD>Energy Smart, we were joined by industry experts Patrik Öhlund - CEO, Node Pole, Brian Marrs - Director, Energy Markets (EMEA), Global Strategy & Execution, Microsoft and Annika Ramsköld - Vice President Sustainability, Vattenfall who shared key insights from their own experience.

Join this panel to hear the latest trends on carbon transparency. What are the options available for data center companies that want to lead this change? How will the global and European energy market develop in the next 5-10 years to support increased transparency on renewable power? How will the new bold commitment from Microsoft on carbon emissions be implemented in their operations? Will we see new political measures and regulation on data centers and carbon emissions in the near future?

Consumer demands are changing

We have seen a significant shift in consumer attitudes over the past few years. More and more people are becoming informed consumers, understanding the implications of their purchasing habits as they relate to climate change and other issues. Microsoft's Marrs said that customers are increasingly willing to pay more to providers who are actively fighting climate change.

Concern about the environment is growing significantly, and consumers want concrete action from organizations. Businesses, in particular large multinational corporations, are heavily responsible for fighting climate change. They need to reflect consumer demands and demonstrate how they are fighting this pressing issue.

This goes hand in hand with many government policies, like the European Commission calling for data centers to be carbon neutral by at least 2030. Change needs to happen now, and not just for consumers, but to ensure viability of businesses moving forward and to ensure the environment remains healthy.

So what does it mean to be transparent?

Ramsköld talked about two key measures: open dialog and demonstrating you can take on challenges with minimal negative impacts. The key to open dialog is not just communicating to consumers, but ensuring that their voices are heard too. People know when they are being heard, and will respect and engage with organizations who can demonstrate their ability to be transparent.

Marrs discussed some Microsoft-specific attitudes towards transparency. As an organization, transparency is vital to understanding where you are, and where you want to be as a business. It is a foundation for both short term and long term innovation. Transparency as a tool for innovation is key because it involves multiple parties and stakeholders in decisions and processes that can have significant impacts on business operations.

It is crucial that you are honest, says Öhlund - there are pros and cons but there will always be options and possibilities that will lead to long term success. Transparency is a key driving force because both consumers and B2B partners need to be able to make informed decisions about who they do business with. It also serves the important purpose in being an inspiration to others.

So what areas are businesses working on?

Marrs mentioned how Microsoft has four key areas: carbon, waste, water, and ecosystems. These four areas become the basis for both transparency and action for the organization as a whole. Waste, water and material are becoming increasingly important to Microsoft because of the wider changes in policies and attitudes towards climate change across the globe.

Microsoft aims to be zero waste certified by 2022, meaning that 70 percent of waste will not go to landfills, and will instead be reused or recycled. This commitment to zero waste and other renewable energy operations will hopefully drive down the cost of renewable energy due to buy in from suppliers and major corporations.

Massive consumer demand for green services also pushes down the prices for renewable energies and zero waste initiatives. As these technologies become more official, there will be a symbiotic benefit for business and consumers who want to operate in a carbon-neutral, zero waste environment.

Tune into the full webinar to find out what other initiatives organizations like Microsoft are taking to be more transparent.