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Leon Kaye headshot

New Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus Long on Water Conservation, Short on Transport Options

By Leon Kaye

In 2019, Microsoft will reopen its newly modernized Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View in a drive to keep technology workers excited about working within one of the most expensive and congested areas in the U.S.

By most accounts, the complex off of Highway 101 and Shoreline Boulevard, comprising almost 15 acres, will be an impressive project. An integrated water management system will only use municipal water sources for sinks and water fountains. Any water used for irrigation, plumbing and sewage systems will be collected and treated from an onsite water treatment plant. Rainwater, storm water, wastewater and grey water will be collected from just about anywhere, from roofs to kitchens to even runoff from paved areas.

The technology giant claims that the complex’s green building street cred will be further boosted by ample solar power, a four-acre green living roof and other design aspects that will allow the entire project to be certified as LEED Platinum upon completion.

Investment in the revamped Mountain View campus will progress as Microsoft is upgrading and purchasing property across the west coast. The company is still in growth mode, even if its accomplishments are often overshadowed by the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook. Microsoft is projected to generate almost $90 billion in revenues this year and is still primed to do whatever it takes to attract talent.

In September, the company reportedly purchased land in north San Jose in what has been described as a move to expand its scope of cloud computing and internet technologies. Its Redmond, WA campus is undergoing a huge makeover; one perk will be a cricket pitch in a bid for employees with ties to the Indian subcontinent, West Indies and South Africa feel at home. In recent years, as covered here on TriplePundit, the company has proven to be a force for both environment sustainability and social good.

The problem with Microsoft’s refurbished Mountain View complex, however, is that its public transportation and walkability are lacking. This is not necessarily the fault of Microsoft; many Bay Area communities have repeatedly resisted public transit options until traffic became intolerable and infrastructure development options dissipated due to the cost of land. Plans to expand systems such as BART and Santa Clara County’s light rail have often been delayed while the systems remain stubbornly expensive to maintain.

The continued angst over traffic gridlock and the Bay Area’s housing crisis has forced many technology companies to do what they can to solve what many say are the two most pressing problems in Silicon Valley. As sustainable as this project may appear, however, this complex does not do anything to take on either of those challenges. No mention of affordable housing has been tied to this complex’ redevelopment plan. And the closest rail option to Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus is the Mountain Caltrain station, which is approximately 2.5 miles away. Most employees will have to rely on Highway 101, with no plans to relieve the artery’s notorious congestion in sight.

Image credit: Kestel Multimedia

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye