Digital technology represents a huge part of our lives, both on a personal and professional level. However, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the digital sector (data centers, telecom equipment, user terminals) are very significant at the global level. They amount to -4% of the world total, and they are growing significantly each year (at about 6% to 8%), according to converging studies from several organizations (including Ademe, Shift Project, and GreenIT).
These observations (among other things) justify the need for digital sobriety. In shaping our culture and habits, our organizations as a whole can contribute to making the digital world less harmful for the environment and become more sustainable.
To this end, here are some ideas for your organization’s daily operations.
4 key eco-actions to adopt
A whopping 80% of GHG emissions are linked to the manufacturing phase of a PC (over its entire life cycle). Manufacturing a computer usually emits more than 330lbs of CO2e. Now, think about all the IT equipment your company goes through.
Examples of practices to develop:
Use your business equipment. Extending the life of a device (PC, smartphone, etc.) by even a few months has a significant impact.
Favor refurbished/low environmental impact equipment in your company’s catalog when possible.
When disposing of “old” equipment, look into third-party vendors who have proven refurbishing and recycling processes.
Data centers consume high amounts of power, usually about hundreds of times more compared to office spaces of the same size.
To counteract this, when choosing a data center, you can evaluate its “sustainability quotient.” Here are some questions to help:
Does it use eco-friendly materials and practices? What is its ESG rating, and has it made a documented commitment to renewable energy?
How efficient is its power usage? Are dormant servers left running and wasting energy?
What methods are used for cooling?
What is the data center’s energy source? Does it run on fossil fuels or renewable energy?
Does the data center have solid waste management and waste reduction strategies in place?
What sort of software is used at the data center? Is it innovative in using technology like AI to forecast use, power consumption, analyze data output, and make decisions (thus becoming more efficient)?
When you move services to the cloud, fewer servers are needed, and less power is consumed. You also get greater flexibility to allow an increase or decrease of capacity depending on need, without having to invest in actual physical servers in your organization.
Here are some recommendations to achieve green cloud computing goals:
Commit your cloud provider to environmental impact through your service level agreements. Here, you can map out key sustainability and cloud metrics (e.g., percentage of energy from renewable sources, PUE ratio, overall server utilization).
Invest in infrastructure decommissioning. When migrating to the cloud, most organizations will find that there is on-premise infrastructure that is no longer utilized. Keep what is absolutely necessary, and minimize your on-premise footprint.
Avoid unnecessary multiple backups of your cloud. Backups multiply your environmental footprint while operating the same data. Be security conscious, of course. But be smart – and eco-efficient – at the same time.
In the era of hybrid and remote working, you need to carefully consider your organization’s meeting structure and medium through the lens of sustainability.
A five-hour video conferencing meeting with participants from different countries is estimated to produce between 8.8lbs to 474lbs of CO2e. While audio-only video conferencing reduces that impact by about 2.6 times less than when using your cameras.
In terms of environmental impact, video conferencing does trump traveling for meetings, clocking in at about 7% of the emissions of an in-person meeting.
Examples of internal meeting practices to develop:
Determine the relevant times to activate cameras (e.g., turning cameras on at the beginning of meetings, turning them off during top-down presentations, and on again during interactive exchanges, etc.).
Look into tools that offer options for deactivating incoming video streams on the receiving terminal, if relevant.
Limit travel into the office exclusively for meetings, unless essential.
Adopting these eco-actions not only helps the environment, it can also contribute to the evolution of your organization’s culture and brand identity as an eco-responsible enterprise.
If you’d like to find out more about sustainable and effective digital strategy and planning, our Wavestone experts are ready to help you drive results that redefine the future.CONTACT OUR DIGITAL SUSTAINABILITY EXPERTS
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