What do I mean by Green IT? In a nutshell, Green IT refers to all information technologies (ICT) whose use reduces the harmful effects of human activity on the environment.
It is estimated that the carbon footprint linked to digital activities accounts for around 4% of the world’s total emissions – which represents 2 gigatonnes of CO2.
Where do these emissions comes from?
These emissions come from the extraction and processing of the raw materials to make digital equipment (i.e. laptops, data centre’s etc), the assembly of these materials, transportation, the usage of these items (i.e. the electricity) and also the “after sales” i.e. servicing and end of life dumping of these materials.
There is a lot of evidence which suggests that end-user devices—laptops, tablets, smartphones, and printers—generate 1.5 to 2.0 times more carbon globally than data centre’s. Evidence detailed by Mckinsey & Company suggests that this is because there is simply significantly more end user devices than in data-centres and that these devices are often replaced more often.
What sort of devices are included?
The list below is some of the items that could be included in the area of Green IT, but in effect it could be any digital device or indeed any digital action we use or perform.
- Desktop and Laptops
- Printers, scanners, copiers, projectors
- Smart phones, desktop phones
- Wireless and connected routers, hubs, and other networking equipment
- Mail servers, file servers, firewalls, databases etc.
- Data Centres and the equipment in them
How can I help reduce the global digital carbon footprint?
In this section I’m focussing on the average person and business rather than industry leaders or politicians. This may indeed all sound a long way from a small business or charity in rural Suffolk but there are still tangible things we can all day to reduce our IT carbon footprint. Indeed some of the decisions below that you could take may even reduce IT spend in the long term.
- Extend the life of existing equipment. Rather than simply replace your aging laptop or desktop, why not upgrade the memory or hard drive within it to extend the life of it.
- Invest more money in the original purchase. Instead of buying a cheaper laptop, phone or desktop, spend more money on a better quality devices to extend the life span of it. Spending £200 extra may extend the lifespan another 2-3 years.
- Purchase refurbished devices instead of new. Refurbished IT equipment is big business these days and a great way of re-using already manufactured equipment. Not only that – but it can even save you money!
- Reduce your own digital footprint by moving away from physical servers, desk based phones etc and to more cloud based infrastructure i.e. cloud storage, cloud telephony etc. It’s a little bit of a misnomer of course that this will significantly reduce emissions but moving services to cloud providers means you are reducing your own energy spend and moving that usage to already existing shared storage and services therefore reducing emissions.
- Partner with organisations and providers that are “green focussed” or that offset emissions in their service provision. The more and more businesses and charities “vote with their feet” to partner with suppliers that are environmentally focussed will hopefully organically change the industry step by step.
- Recycle your old IT equipment with professional recyclers (don’t just take it to the dump or put it in general waste). Although there may be a small charge for this, taking your digital items to professional recyclers will ensure that as much of your digital device gets re-used as possible.
- Use software applications that are less processor heavy and memory hungry. Whilst “bloated” software applications don’t directly cause increased emissions, these will cause increased battery usage and therefore increase the frequency and need to charge batteries.
- Go Paperless. Do you need to print that document? Do you need a printer at all? Removing the humble printer from the office or home will not only save emissions in the manufacture of that device but it will also save on paper and ink costs.
Please contact me at email@example.com or on 01473 345321 and i’d be happy to have a discussion about anything in this area.