In early April, two environmental reports alerted global politicians to action. Indeed, both the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the WHO (World Health Organization) warn of global warming and the short time we have left to act. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, several solutions stand before us, especially in terms of digital pollution. Responsible in 2019 for 2% of greenhouse gases, this figure could well increase to 6.7% by 2040. Frightening figures when we know that in 2019 the share of the air market, by way of comparison, was responsible for 4.7% of greenhouse gas emissions.
To reduce these figures, and especially among companies, Green IT strategies are developing increasingly. Defined as “a continuous improvement approach that aims to reduce the environmental, social and economic impacts of digital technology“, Green IT makes it possible to raise employees’ awareness of a greener use of digital tools, while preserving their performance on a daily basis.
The first traces of Green IT date back to the 1990s, in the United States, when the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) began to use more environmentally friendly computing devices. However, it was not until the 2000s that the notion really entered the consciousness, especially with the beginnings of the Internet and therefore the beginnings of digital.
Called sustainable computing, green computing or responsible digital, Green IT is a term bringing together social, economic and ecological notions. Indeed, Green IT includes:
As a result, sustainable digital technology is no longer a simple notion to define more “green” tools, but a real environmental initiative.
A Green IT strategy within a company is increasingly recommended because it is a powerful system that can bring you benefits in various sectors. Indeed, Green IT is divided into three distinct approaches:
This first approach takes place in the early stages of a project, at the time of its conception. Before thinking about a product or service, you have to think about its environmental impact in order to be in an eco-design perspective.
This second axis aims to develop a SIDD (Sustainable Development Information System) within the company. As a result, the digital tools used within the company must meet a sustainable purpose in accordance with an internal policy. Such management must obviously be accompanied by an appropriate CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) strategy.
This last approach focuses on the business “trade” consequences with the desire to reduce its impact through ICT (Information and Communication Technology). In other words, the goal is to go beyond optimizing tools to achieve a meaningful economic and behavioral change. For example, the emergence of carpooling, made possible by ICTs, allows an actual change of economic system between the individual good (product economy) and shared (service economy/function).
First of all in data storage, managed by data centers located around the world. In France, they consume an average of 5.15 mega watts per m2 per year. For example, this means that a 10,000m2 Data Center consumes as much as a city of 50,000 inhabitants, such as Valenciennes (France). These data centers are essential today to maintain and ensure the cybersecurity of companies.
Nevertheless, the biggest factor of pollution remains the manufacturing stage of our digital tools. Worldwide, more than 34 billion smartphones, computers, game consoles and televisions exist, which have required polluting manufacturing. Indeed, it takes 80 times less energy to produce 1g of a car than a smartphone.
Other tools, which we do use on a daily basis, contribute to the increase in digital pollution. This is the case of streaming representing 60% of internet traffic, internet browsers like Google, or the sending and massive reception of emails.
45% of pollution during the manufacturing stage (energy, scarce resources, production of raw materials)
55% of pollution during use (data backup, internet browsers, streaming, data sending streams)
50 million tons of waste produced each year worldwide (only 5% recycled, 70% illegally exported abroad)
As we know, the digital sector is extremely energy intensive, and a consumer of non-renewable resources making its operation unsustainable. Indeed, the Internet alone consumes about 16% of the electricity resources produced globally. This energy consumption comes from different actors, on which companies can work to promote an eco-friendly technology.
Edge computing consists of centralizing data processing on a local scale, with mini data centers. Integrated within companies or directly on connected tools, this process makes it possible to sort and keep only the necessary data. As a result, data management is done automatically, significantly reducing costs for the company but also its environmental impact.
At the individual level, it is necessary to train your employees on digital responsibility. First of all, it is necessary to give access to a browser that consumes less energy or with a reduced carbon footprint such as Ecosia or Microsoft Edge. Then, do not underestimate the pollution of emails: sort, and favor other means of communication such as Teams when available. Finally, do not hesitate to use the sleep mode of your computer especially when you are not working directly on it.
As we have seen, the manufacture of an electronic device is horribly polluting, which is why it is essential to keep your devices as long as possible. By increasing the life of your tablet from 2 to 4 years, you reduce the environmental balance by 50%. You can also opt for the purchase of refurbished electronic equipment, which will allow you to reduce your annual hardware budget.
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