Sustainable IT: reducing carbon footprints and preserving resources

sustainable IT

Studies show that carbon emissions generated by the internet, devices, and systems that support it account for 3.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than all aviation emissions (2.5%). It doesn’t end there. Research conducted by “Green the Web.” found that a single web page consumes on average 1.76 g CO2 per page view. As businesses, the question we need to ask ourselves is how much every click on our website/data storage/use of tech devices costs the planet.

There are no specific points or steps to follow while designing a green or sustainable IT system. In truth, it’s a collection of ideas, facts, and best practices that should be followed while prioritizing sustainability principles. Climate change is an indisputable reality every organization under the sun is grappling with. Increased global warming due to rising carbon emissions is compelling both companies and customers to think about sustainability for their own future. A few statistics to understand the gravity of the current scenario:

  • Forests being cut down: Since 2016, an average of 28 million hectares have been cut down every year. Half of the world’s rainforest has been destroyed in just one century.
  • Nearly 2.7 billion tons of coal mined globally to date: Strip mining accounts for 40% of the world’s coal mines and the practice destroys landscapes, forests, and wildlife habitation.
  • The global Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry contributes 2%-3% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:  User devices, networks, and data centers hold the largest share of carbon emissions compared to other contributors within the ICT industry.

Related reading: The growth of green consumerism: Shaping sustainable futures

“Sustainability” – the real buzz around the entire ICT industry

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investors are using non-financial aspects more often as part of their analytical process to assess opportunities and identify material risks. ESG investors have become a growing force in capital markets and poured around $649 Bn into ESG funds in 2021. The US has experienced the highest growth in recent years and may come to dominate the category starting in 2022.

ECG-mandated & non-mandated assets

Shifts in design globally and the role of IT companies

Green or sustainable IT is bringing about a transformative change in the users’ mindset. Right from the efficient utilization of resources, reduction in waste, innovative and sustainable design approach, low power devices, and more, ICT companies can immensely contribute towards this objective of global environmental sustainability. Global IT industry leaders like AccentureMicrosoftIBMHCL, Oracle, etc., are working towards IT sustainability and incorporating a sustainable approach in their products and services. There are tools available to measure CO2 emissions in front-end web applications (E.g. Wholegrain Digital and GreenFrame). However, for native/mobile applications currently, a few startups are working to measure CO2 emissions. Some of the names include PangolinCoGo, and ImpactVision.

Increasing use of 3D arts, electronics wearables, mobile apps, NFTs, gamification, IoT devices, and data centers have raised serious concerns for designers and developers about incurring sustainability issues and reducing carbon footprints. Savvy startups eager to prove their concern are already working towards providing sustainability in their product/services. Current innovation in and sustainability R&D concept in the IT industry are being developed and applied to future paradigm parameters like the generation of extremely consistent recycling management approaches for hardware and batteries.

Importance of 3 Rs in sustainable IT: reusing, recycling, reducing

The entire environmental sustainability revolves around 3 Rs (reusing, recycling, reducing). IT enterprises (more likely hardware companies) can create advanced IT systems keeping these 3 Rs in mind. Recycling is using old components or parts in a new way or using waste as resources. Reusing refers to the repeated use of items or parts of items which still have usable aspects including network interfaces and communication devices. Reducing means optimizing the amount of waste or energy consumed with means of choosing things with care to reduce the amount of waste generated. Optimized customer experiences are turning into game-changers and IT technology trends are focused on this digital-savvy generation.

Before discussing sustainable IT trends, let’s start with why it is imperative to catch up with these trends:

  • Competitive edge: Staying informed on the latest trends of sustainability and monitoring how your competitors are treating their customers helps you drive competitive uniqueness.
  • New customer acquisition: Consumers have begun to change their buying patterns due to the shift to digital platforms, products, and services. Considering sustainability (low power, fast charging, and compact designs) as the primary go-to-market strategy allows enterprises to tap into new ways to acquire customers.
  • Customer retention: Customer loyalty is an irreplaceable asset. By offering your customers the experience they deserve, enterprises can build a connection that goes beyond a single interaction or purchase.

Sustainability will remain a top priority for ICT brands to survive and thrive. A few key trends we think will help your customers and the market at large take note of your sustainable approach now and into the future:

ICT initiative that lifts sustainability

Ensuring these ideas are embedded into hardware and software designs will not only lead to improved performance and usability. It will also ensure quality of product or services that company offers. As leading ICT brands like Microsoft, Intel, Google, AT&T, AWS, etc. need to implement a sustainability approach to build a green future, accessible to all. Creating a simpler, smoother online experience can also help reduce visitor screen time and webpage bandwidth usage. As a part of sustainable product/service design, savvy companies are already working to support the environment by compact designs, use of advanced technologies like AI and ML, and incorporate energy efficient systems. Going green is a core part of doing business today for any enterprise.

Sustainable/green approach results in a win-win-win situation for the economy, society, and environment. Enterprises operating in ICT sector must consider sustainability as their responsibility while developing new technologies, products, and services.

How Netscribes can help

As a data and insights provider for the digital economy, we help Fortune 500 companies and leading enterprises to:

  • Study to map and assess the market potential of the global/regional sustainability and green technology market
  • Analyze the current and future market for sustainability and green technologies used in IoT, AI, analytics, blockchain, etc.
  • Identify enterprises utilizing green and sustainable solutions to measure and reduce their carbon footprints and increase energy efficiency
  • Spot potentially disruptive sustainable technologies
  • Identify use cases of sustainability and green technologies in different industries (finance, manufacturing, transportation & logistics, etc.)
  • Evaluate technologies and identify growth opportunities
  • Understand global/regional spending on sustainability and green solutions
  • Track global/regional ESG investment trends

For over two decades Netscribes’ has been a preferred technology research service provider for organizations of all sizes. We help uncover new opportunities to optimize and scale their business offerings to meet evolving customer and market needs. To know how we can help your business, contact us.

Based on insights by Husen Limdiwala – Manager, Market Research team, Netscribes

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