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An Introduction to Sustainable IT


With energy prices rising around the world, the threat of global warming growing ever more significant, and the economy in continued disarray, IT’s role in tackling waste is gaining increasing attention.

Technology is undoubtedly an essential part of any successful business in the modern world, but it’s not without its issues.

At present, the information and communications technology (ICT) sector accounts for about 2% of global emissions – around the same as the carbon footprint of the aviation industry. Sustainable IT is a concept gaining steam as a potential solution to not only supporting the planet, but keeping business finances in check too.

Here’s your introduction to a more sustainable method of accessing technology.

What is Sustainable IT? An Overview

As the age of digital transformation continues at an accelerated rate, and IT becomes more of a consistent part of our lives, the impact on the planet is significant. From the influence of constantly mining for materials, to the costs of running expansive data centers, the environmental footprint of the digital world is much greater than most people realise.

Sustainable IT, sometimes referred to as “Green IT” is an umbrella term used to describe the various methods and solutions companies can consider to leverage technology in a more eco-friendly manner. The concept covers everything from the manufacturing and use of technology to the management and disposal of common tools.

Some of the key components of sustainable IT include:

·      Sustainable IT manufacturing: Sustainable IT manufacturing refers to methods of producing technology in a way that doesn’t harm the environment. This includes everything from reducing the harmful chemicals used in products, to making them more energy efficient, and leveraging more recycled materials. Already, there are EU regulations in place requiring common computer manufacturers to abide by green manufacturing laws which limit the use of toxic materials.

·      Sustainable IT management and use: The concept of sustainable IT management and use looks at how companies manage IT assets. It includes things like purchasing energy-efficient servers, desktops, and other equipment, as well as carefully managing the power consumption of critical equipment. This can even include donation and recycling methods implemented at the end of a product’s lifecycle to stop devices from piling up.

·      Sustainable IT disposal: The disposal part of the equation focuses exclusively on the safe disposal of IT assets at the end of their lifecycle. Some manufacturers are now allowing companies to return their computers to the brand for sustainable disposal at the end of the solution’s life. The process ensures the devices don’t end up in a landfill where toxic substances can seep into a landfill.

The Purpose of Sustainable IT

The goal of sustainable IT is to ensure the transformation of the planet towards a more “digital” future, doesn’t harm the environment around us. Unfortunately, many companies still haven’t given much thought to the sustainability of their IT operations. However, Stanford believes the energy powering individual workstations could be scaled back by up to 74%.

Some of the methods companies can already use to support sustainable IT include:

·      Better data centre practices: Relocating servers to colder climates for reduced GHG emissions and following best practices like natural forms of cooling can significantly support the protection of the planet.

·      Migration to the cloud: Cloud energy tends to be more efficient, and also allows companies to cut down on the amount of hardware they need to access.

·      Find the right partners: Invest in the correct tools from companies committed to environmentally-friendly practices to reduce your overall impact on the environment.

·      Donate and recycle: Donate and recycle your no-longer suitable products to the correct official groups, rather than simply allowing them to be thrown into landfills

·      Use standard energy saving practices: Follow typical energy saving practices, like making sure you turn lights off in rooms throughout an office, and minimize the use of heating and other products when teams aren’t present.

Can Sustainable IT Help You?

Making the switch to sustainable IT is something a lot of companies will need to consider in the coming years. Not only is it crucial for steps to be taken to protect the environment, but many consumers now expect the companies they work with to demonstrate a commitment to greener, and more eco-friendly practices.

Switching to simple sustainable IT methods doesn’t have to be an expensive process, and when it’s used correctly, it can also be an excellent way to differentiate your business from other companies in your industry, and reach a wider range of customers.

Sustainable IT also offers a fantastic way for companies to save money, as many of the practices you implement will allow you to reduce waste. For instance, switching to the cloud can also reduce your overhead expenses in a number of ways.

As concerns about the environment continue to mount up, there’s a good chance governments will begin to implement policies which require companies to take sustainability seriously. The best way to thrive is to stay ahead of the curve.