IT Sustainability: Importance, Impact, and Implementation
Updated – 28.12.2022
Sustainability is a modern trend, which is rapidly spreading over different spheres of human activity, including the IT industry. Since computers and other devices used in the companies consume large amounts of electricity, they release tons of carbon dioxide and increase greenhouse gas emissions. Most of the companies, including Qubit Labs, aim to minimize or eliminate the IT systems’ influence on the environment. The concept of IT sustainability, or Green Computing, brings together two major aspects, which have a significant impact on the future, namely technology and the environment.
This article will discuss why IT sustainability matters, why it is a key feature the business has to embrace, and what trends to expect in the next couple of years.
What is Sustainability in Information Technology?
In a nutshell, sustainable information technology can be explained as a set of manufacturing, management, use, and disposal practices, which bring minimum damage to the environment. Yet, the term has different meanings, depending on your role in the usage of the technology. Let’s turn to IT sustainability definition:
- Sustainable IT manufacturing. This definition covers a handful of activities, following the 3R as reduce, reuse, and recycle. It also refers to processes optimization and improvement and the creation of new approaches, which are less harmful and greener.
- Sustainable IT management and use. This definition is about the way the company manages its IT assets, namely opting for energy-efficient desktops, servers, and other equipment. It also implies taking care of the equipment’s power consumption and its environmentally safe disposal.
- Sustainable IT disposal. This definition implies that the company responsibly treats the safe disposal of the equipment and recycling e-waste. The company ensures that the old computers won’t end up in a garbage dump instead of take-back recycling offices or donation programs.
Clearly, one company can’t solve climate change; hence, it’s significant for the companies to work together and follow the approach of shared corporate responsibility. One of the front-runners of this initiative is Intel, which came up with the social goals that have to be followed by the communities, industries, and governments.
Around 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions come from the IT industry, which is equivalent to aviation. The competition for energy is increasing since the sector is rapidly developing. Going greener is significant because it positively impacts not only the environment but also your global business practices. The more energy your company consumes, the more you pay for the bills, hence the lower your income is. When following a sustainable approach, you can save thousands of dollars and leave a less harmful ecological footprint.
How to Achieve Sustainability In Information Technology?
There is a handful of ways to make the IT industry more environmentally friendly. It doesn’t require much effort to improve your company’s image in the public eye and be treated as a responsible brand that cares about ecology. You can create your IT sustainability plan according to advice below. Some of the most affordable and efficient ways of going for sustainability IT are the following:
Virtualization helps to use less amount of computing resources while doing the same amount of work usual servers do. It allows several users to connect to one physical server and get more done work because its utilization is optimized.
Besides, the users can access remote data centers from their laptops, smartphones, and tablets, so there won’t be any need to purchase too many gadgets, and you can reduce the power consumption.
Purchasing from Environmentally Committed Companies
As an important IT priority, it is significant to opt for the companies, which are committed to ensuring high standards and environmentally responsible practices when developing their computers. It goes for design, production, packaging, and recycling the machines after their life has ended. When choosing the infrastructure for the office, check the Energy Star rating.
Although these devices might be a little bit expensive, their life cycle is longer, and they guarantee smooth work, helping the businesses to be more sustainable.
The stack of paper never looked eco-friendly, right? Not to mention the fact that employees use printouts even in cases when sending a message or email would have been sufficient. Americans use around 85,000,000 tons of paper annually, and IT companies are the ones that can help to lower this number.
Besides, digitalization has brought many innovations, so consider electronic signatures instead of handwritten ones on paper documents. Exchanging documents via electronic means and storing them in the cloud is much easier and convenient compared to printed versions, it is also about green IT. The required papers can be assessed immediately, and security measures prevent them from getting lost or damaged.
It is necessary to recycle electronic devices since they are made up of various materials and can’t be thrown away in the usual garbage. The materials, which are recycled can be reused, decreasing the number of the produced plastic and saving natural resources.
A few quick tips to add:
- Laptops use less power than desktops, so consider it when purchasing equipment.
- Remind employees to turn off their devices when not in use.
- Communicate Green Intentions to the team members.
- Opt for efficient cooling systems.
- Set Green IT Policies.
Sustainability in information technology can be achieved in multiple ways, and even the smallest steps make a big difference. Your company won’t even have to change the usual way of work to become more ecologically aware.
IT Sustainability Examples
Since sustainability IT is a competitive advantage, the world’s leading companies strive to incorporate it into their processes. They take advantage of it to improve their image and promote their values, encouraging people to raise their ecological awareness.
It’s no wonder that dell has adopted sustainability IT into every aspect of their work, from products and packaging to end-of-life design. They partner with responsible suppliers only and source sustainable materials. The company is committed to following the sustainability approach and mentioned it in its SMART goals.
The company runs on 100% green energy, which comes from three different Apple solar farms. Actually, Apple park headquarters has one of the largest solar roofs on the planet and convinced 23 companies in its supply chain to get renewable energy for the part of their business, which relates to Apple products. Currently, the company has 25 renewable energy projects.
Google aims to go carbon-free by 2030, and it’s been carbon neutral since 2007. The company commits €10M to support ideas that will make a breakthrough in Europe’s progress toward a greener future while using technology. Google has embarked on using machine learning to control the cooling systems in their data centers. AI-enabled solutions help to increase energy savings on a global scale.
The company had been at the origin of sustainability information technology since it inspired people to reuse stuff instead of throwing them out. It has initiated green shipping options and partners with local places to reduce shipping’s environmental impact.
Benefits of Sustainable Information Technology
Sustainability in information technology has attracted many “followers” because it allows companies to save considerable costs. When the businesses don’t spend on equipment, energy bills, paper, ink, and other expenditures required to maintain an office, they are in a win-win situation. They don’t spend money and take steps towards becoming greener. Some other advantages include the following:
- Waste reduction.
- Diminished workplace hazards, like possibly dangerous chemicals in the laptops.
- Greater employee retention and recruitment.
- Brand strengthening and effective PR for the company (it is seen as a responsible one by the investors and customers).
- Increased corporate social responsibility.
- Reduced GHG emission.
- Changing governmental policy and encouraging recycling.
- Avoiding the need to dispose of devices.
IT and sustainability bring value and tangible benefits to the companies, and more and more businesses are embedding the latter as their company culture core element. They realize that following a sustainability approach is a forward-looking decision, which brings numerous opportunities. Speaking of the future, let’s take a look at the trends that will shape sustainability in the future.
Sustainability Information Technology Trends
Companies, which present a high sustainability-related risk are less likely to draw the attention of famous investors. The shareholders have even signed a letter, which was aimed to call on governments to take action to prevent climate change. A low-carbon economy and sustainable growth are the top sectors receiving financing.
The products, which are produced following the standards that define their environmental-friendliness, receive the “eco-label.” It also goes for noise energy consumption and the system’s recycling.
Companies that opt for this approach can easily change individual components as per request. It decreases investment costs and improves flexibility, which prevents companies from starting everything from scratch and using even more resources.
The sustainability information technology goes not only for the companies but also for the cities and countries in which they are located. The businesses are driving policy change in their surroundings and engaging people into taking part in activities, helping to reduce the negative impact of climate change.
Addressing the question “what is sustainability and why should we care about it,” we can conclude that it is an inseparable part of our future. It can help to avoid depriving the next generations of the ability to meet their own needs. Every modern developer understands the connection between IT and sustainability, and Qubit Labs helps businesses build teams with employees who care about the project and its environmental impact. In case you are interested in developing such a solution, contact us to turn your ideas into reality.