The energy consumption, electronic waste, and carbon footprint associated with IT are significant. However, there’s a glimmer of hope – the emergence of green and sustainable IT.
Understanding the Problem
As we face environmental challenges, sustainability has become a “must” for businesses across all industries. And, as our reliance on technology continues to grow, so does its impact on the world around us.
The IT sector accounts for a substantial portion of global electricity consumption, emitting a significant amount of greenhouse gasses in the process. Data centers, often the backbone of IT operations, are particularly energy-intensive. They require extensive power for servers, cooling systems, and other infrastructure. Additionally, the rapid development and disposal of electronic devices contributes to the growing e-waste crisis.
But are organizations staying on top of this? A sustainable report by Capgemini highlights 89% of companies recycle less than 10% of their IT hardware. Additionally, less than half of executives say they know the organization’s IT footprint. Similarly, according to Canalys research, 55% of North America partners and 48% of Latin America partners are not yet tracking sustainability KPIs for customers.
However, there’s evidence that environmental sustainability is a top 10 priority for CEOs. According to Gartner, by 2026, 75% of organizations will increase their business engagement with IT vendors that have clear sustainability goals.
Moving toward green IT
Recognizing the environmental challenges posed by the IT sector, industry players are increasingly shifting their focus towards sustainable practices. That means challenging traditional approaches and favoring more conscious solutions. Green IT involves adopting environmentally responsible approaches throughout a product’s lifecycle—from design and manufacturing to usage and disposal.
Not only are sustainable IT practices environmentally friendly, but they also offer tangible business benefits such as a reduction in operational costs. Let’s explore this further:
Virtualization and cloud computing
Virtualization and cloud computing enable better resource usage by consolidating multiple applications onto a single server. This significantly reduces the required physical servers, streamlining the IT infrastructure. In turn, this consolidation leads to lower energy consumption, reduced cooling costs, and minimized hardware maintenance—all of which help to reduce operational costs significantly.
Hardware lifecycle management
Despite the move to cloud services, there’s still a need for IT hardware such as servers, routers, and end-user devices such as laptops. Many organizations will have an age-based device refresh cycle and will replace devices after a set amount of time, e.g., servers will have a three to five-year lifespan. Moving to a data-driven approach when refreshing devices—e.g., factoring in performance data and not just predetermined lifespans, for example—will help to reduce carbon impact, eliminate unnecessary retiring of perfectly useable devices, and lower costs.
Green and sustainable IT is a vital step toward mitigating the environmental impacts of our digital age. Through collective efforts and conscious choices, we can drive positive change and pave the way for a greener, more sustainable future in the world of technology. Let us embrace these principles and work together to achieve a harmonious balance between technological advancement and environmental preservation.