Design through sustainability

Our approach to product design happens through life cycle thinking. We perform life cycle assessment (LCA) to calculate the environmental impact of our hardware products and activities. This helps identify the key stages in the product life cycle—for example, where the largest sources of emissions and energy use over the device life cycle take place—and helps us minimize these impacts. We publish greenhouse gas emissions, primary energy consumption, and material composition data for our leading products through our eco profiles.

Greenhouse gas emissions across the life cycle of Surface Pro

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Our devices are compliant

Every device we produce fulfills our strict criteria and complies with all legal requirements.

We're cutting energy costs

By combining existing systems with cloud-based analytics and business intelligence capabilities, Microsoft partners enable buildings to be smarter, use less energy, and perform at higher efficiency, saving approximately 10 percent of energy costs per year.

Our cloud saves energy

Moving to our cloud services can help businesses reduce energy use by 30 to 90 percent per user versus running on-premise services.

We're globally registered

All new Surface products are EPEAT registered to at least Silver ratings in the US, and Surface Pro 4, our new Surface Pro, the original Surface Book and our new Surface Book 2 are all registered EPEAT Gold in the US. We are seeking to up-level eligible devices to the Gold level.

How we manage life cycles, safety, and materials


How we calculate our LCA

The results of a life cycle assessment (LCA) depend on the calculation method, scope, and assumptions used. Thus, assessments of different producers are not comparable even though general LCA standards and device-specific documents are available. We use the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards, complemented by device-specific ETSI TS 103 199 and ITU-T L.1410, as a framework for our calculations. These include the entire life cycle, from raw material acquisition through end-of-life disposal.

Based on LCAs, we identify component types and processes that are more impactful than others, so we can decrease the environmental impacts of our products and operations. LCAs help us continuously improve the resource efficiency of our products in every life cycle stage. We are constantly evaluating different methodologies, methods, tools, and databases. As the LCA, devices, and technologies are continuously developing, our LCA results represent the understanding at the time of publication and are revised as needed.

What do our assessments cover?

In the LCA calculations for Surface products, we assume three years of usage time, including both the impact of active and idle time (for example, when the device is energized but not in active use). For the transportation phase, both inbound and outbound logistics are included, as well as transportation to recycling facilities. The recycling phase also contains the pretreatment of devices. The impact derived from different accessories, packaging, user guides, and corporate overhead—including travel—is not included.

We have product safety principles that guide our manufacturing and production work. These principles help ensure the devices we create and take to market are safe for their intended use and can be safely and responsibly recycled or managed at the end of their useful life.

Product safety reviews are conducted at initial product concept and repeated through design, prototype review, and testing, as well as during manufacturing, consumer use, and at the end of the product’s useful life. Hazard analyses and risk assessments are conducted during product concept and early design, and identified risks are eliminated or mitigated during subsequent design, testing, and manufacture consistent with the hierarchy of health and safety controls methodology.

Microsoft is a member of several organizations through which we learn about upcoming and proposed regulations, and we share best safety practices related to consumer products with representatives from industry and trade associations and with other manufacturers. For example, Microsoft supports the efforts of the Information Technology Technical Council responsible for keeping abreast of new safety regulations throughout the world and actively participates in International Electrotechnical Commission TC 108, responsible for standardization in the field of safety for audio/video and similar technology, information technology and communication technology equipment.

We take a precautionary approach to substance management. This means when we have reasonable grounds for concern over potential impacts to health or the environment, we will not allow a lack of full scientific evidence to be an obstacle to action. In certain cases, we also take voluntary steps to substitute substances of concern with more sustainable alternatives when they are available. Our substance management requirements include the need to know, control, and manage the content of the components and parts supplied to us. We expect our suppliers to integrate environmental considerations in their design procedures and supply chain management.

How we do it

We track research concerning chemicals’ impacts on health and the environment and update our substance restriction specification for our products, packaging, and manufacturing accordingly.

All our products are compliant with both global and Microsoft-specific requirements.