Green IT has gained a lot of popularity over the years as consumers have started understanding the environmental impact of the tech industry. So what exactly is “Green IT” and how will it benefit the environment?
Green IT, also referred to as “Green Computing”, “Sustainable IT” or “Eco-ICT”, helps in reducing the environmental impact of information technology systems and improves sustainability through its use. It also reduces carbon emissions throughout the lifecycle of computer systems.
It is the study and practice of efficiently and successfully designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers, and other subsystems such as displays, printers, storage devices, and networking and communications systems.
Organizations have started to be scrutinized by their investors and consumers regarding their carbon footprint, environmental initiatives, and achievements. The share prices of companies that don’t address these issues to the fullest extent have started to be discounted.
Before we dive deep into the benefits of Green IT, and strategies that companies can adopt, it is important to understand exactly how and how much the IT industry impacts the environment.
Impact of IT on the Environment
The IT sector is responsible for almost 1.8%-3.9% of the world’s total greenhouse emissions. That is about 730 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. 17% of the total electronic waste in the world is supplied by the IT sector alone. This is because this waste is hard to recycle.
The carbon footprint is growing due to various factors like rising demand for computing power and data storage and the production and disposal of electronic devices. The increased use of electricity to support these demands will lead to devastating consequences for the environment. This is because coal or oil plays a significant part in the generation of electricity and releases carbon dioxide, pollutants, and sulfur into the atmosphere.
The manufacturing of computer components uses a lot of toxic materials that make disposal a difficult process. Many customers tend to dispose of their electronic equipment 2–3 years after purchase. These land in landfills, polluting the earth and contaminating the water.
Benefits of Green IT
The benefits of Green It can be seen on various fronts.
- It helps improve energy efficiency, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, uses less harmful material, and encourages reusing and recycling. This will help companies comply with the various government regulations.
- It also lets companies, that use this technology and vision to provide products and services, enjoy competitive advantage. This is because these companies will have an improved ESG score. This also will lead to higher financial savings.
- Using Green IT translates into the use of raw materials that are not toxic to the environment and humans. This will help the holistic development of humans and the environment.
- Using Green IT will help show the brand in a positive light and will lead to an improved reputation for the company. Customer attraction and retention rates will increase and investors will want to be associated with the brand. This will help push research in Green IT to reach new heights.
- A lot of employees want to be associated with organizations that are making a positive impact on the environment. Hence, an organization’s willingness to adopt Green It practices can lead to lower attrition rates.
- Organizations should start incorporating Green IT into their day-to-day operations to stay relevant and competitive in the market.
Approaches of Green IT
These 4 approaches will let an organization work towards the holistic addressing of the environmental impact of the IT industry.
- Green use: Reduce computer and other information system energy usage and use them in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Green disposal: Refurbish and repurpose outdated computers, and recycle unneeded computers and other equipment properly.
- Green design: Create energy-efficient and ecologically friendly computer components, servers, and cooling equipment.
- Green manufacturing: Produce electronic components, computers, and other linked subsystems with little or no environmental impact.
Green IT Strategies
Every step towards Green IT will help the environment in the long run. A few strategies that every organization can work with are mentioned below.
- Edge computing helps organizations achieve their sustainability goals by using less energy and resources while also reducing the latency of the service and improving the accuracy and security of data collection.
- The computer systems that have become obsolete should not be discarded, instead, the metals in the system should be utilized to produce other systems. This means that the designing of computer systems should be done in such a way that it is easy to disassemble and recycle.
- Computer systems should also be manufactured using substitutes for precious metals. This is because these metals are rare and usually dangerous to mine for.
- The use of toxic materials should also be put to rest since that is not good for the environment or even for individuals.
- Organizations should also work on educating consumers about proper e-waste disposal which should also be practiced by them.
- Renewable energy sources should be used to power the IT infrastructure of the company.
These strategies can be monitored by the “Green IT Task Force”. This task force will also help the organizations monitor their carbon emissions as well as come up with solutions as and when needed. They can also intervene and steer the organization back on the right path. They will also help in the cross-functional adoption of green IT.