Technology has changed the way we work. The IT industry has been growing rapidly, given the digital acceleration triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and so has the carbon footprint caused by IT growth. IT and industry leaders must make sustainable IT a priority and embed it in their objectives.
IT has made its way to almost all the products and services consumed globally. From smartphones and computers to data and digital content, IT is everywhere. This means it will play an increasingly important role in sustainability.
Unless greater consideration is given to energy consumption and environmental impact when designing IT products and applications, their direct environmental impact could be significant.
According to a recent report by Capgemini, sustainable IT is still not a priority for most companies, with only 43% of executives stating that they are completely aware of their organisation’s IT footprint.
Even though half of these companies have implemented a company sustainability strategy, only 18% have a comprehensive strategy with defined goals and target timeframes.
Computers, laptops, and mobile devices account for more than 2% of human greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The prime objective of green IT is to minimize the negative environmental effects of producing, operating, and disposing of IT products.
Not only tangible products but software and networking services can affect the environment too. Search results, for instance, can cause the emission of carbon dioxide due to the energy required to power a computer and to send the request to servers around the world.
Excess emission of carbon dioxide can ultimately lead to an increase in global warming. Data centres are always criticized for their demand and consumption of high energy.
Designing New Imperatives
Sustainable technological change will require a re-assessment of the roles of organisations globally. IT leaders and policymakers should increasingly address the challenges of identifying and implementing policies to build a strategic roadmap toward creating sustainable IT.
Sustainable IT has three important aspects – social, economic, and environmental. And IT leaders must work on optimizing their products and services at all three levels and try to minimize the impact.
Addressing climate and environmental challenges requires expertise related to various solutions that can be adopted to mitigate the negative impacts. For instance, creating carbon-free energy technologies, recycling old products rather than creating new ones, etc. Economically, reusing resources can prove to be beneficial for long term sustainability by keeping the waste to an absolute minimum.
The new path toward carbon-free technologies will require establishing new value chains hosting leaders that can speak the green language and have domain expertise in solving the emission problems.
Way to Go Green
Modern trends such as digital transformation, application modernization, and cloud computing can address the issues of energy and resource consumption. Large as well as small enterprises, can shift their on-premise applications to the cloud and reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions considerably.
Compliance plays a critical role in transforming the industry into adopting green initiatives. Newer and greener environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) standards can push organisations to design and revamp their current business models to make them more sustainable.
Sustainability and minimized consumption of resources are the new social and economic imperatives. Sustainable IT will require changes in current processes, the type and number of resources used, and the products which are produced.
IT leaders must try to make their organisations green, ones that use resources more responsibly and organise industrial processes to minimize waste. This will pave the way to building sustainable businesses and will transform them to become truly zero-carbon enterprises.
(This article is written by Neelesh Kripalani, CTO – Clover Infotech. The views expressed in this article are of the author.)