What is sustainable IT?

2023 06 16 · 2 min read

In an era where the urgency of environmental sustainability has reached new heights, the realm of technology plays a vital role in paving the way towards a greener future. According to World Economic Forum (WEF), digital technologies could deliver up to 20% of the 2050 reduction needed to hit carbon neutrality goals in the energy, materials, and mobility industries. 

Sustainable IT, also known as Green IT or Green Computing, encompasses practices that minimise the negative impact on the environment throughout the entire life cycle of IT operations.  

Let us delve into what sustainable IT entails and its critical aspects in our blog post. Explore practical steps every business can take to embrace an eco-friendlier IT approach.

What does sustainable IT mean? 

Sustainable IT is a concept that encompasses environmental responsibility in various areas of IT operations. From the design, manufacturing, and operation of technology to the responsible disposal of electronic waste, sustainable IT aims to mitigate the adverse effects on our planet. By adopting sustainable IT practices, businesses can align their operations with the global pursuit of carbon neutrality. 

Moreover, based on data from Statista’s report on the sustainability of IT infrastructure, a significant 69% of IT decision-makers consider sustainability as one of the foremost drivers within their organisations. Additionally, 67% of the respondents say their organisation actively measures and strives to limit the environmental impact of their IT equipment and infrastructure.  

These statistics highlight the growing recognition of the importance of sustainability in the IT sector and the efforts to minimise the ecological footprint associated with IT operations. 

3 core aspects of sustainable IT 

There are three main aspects to consider when implementing sustainable IT solutions: 

  • Sustainability in IT. This involves creating sustainable IT architectures, utilising eco-friendly hardware, and adopting energy-efficient coding practices. Businesses can reduce their carbon footprint by optimising IT infrastructure and development processes; 
  • Sustainability by IT. Leveraging digital solutions for CO2 transparency and reduction is another crucial aspect. From calculating and monitoring carbon footprints to utilising data-driven insights for sustainable decision-making, IT can be a powerful tool in combating climate change; 
  • Sustainability for society. Sustainable IT also extends its impact beyond the environmental realm, aiming to create digital solutions that contribute positively to society. Businesses can address societal challenges by enabling technology for social good and driving positive change. 

5 ways you can embrace sustainability in IT 

There are practical steps that businesses can take to make their IT processes more sustainable. By embracing greener IT practices, companies can contribute to environmental conservation and reduce their carbon footprint. Here are four actionable ways to achieve this: 

  • Energy efficiency. Utilise the least energy (operational overheads, low-carbon energy sources) or use the least amount of embodied carbon (hardware lifespan, device utilisation). Also, encourage businesses to execute more processes when the electricity is cleaner and do less when the electricity is dirtier (spatial/ time shifting); 
  • Cloud computing. Migrate on-premises applications and document storage to the cloud. By leveraging cloud solutions, businesses can reduce direct energy consumption and carbon emissions while benefiting from scalability and shared resources; 
  • Remote work. Embracing remote work policies offers businesses multiple benefits and promotes sustainable IT practices. It enhances worker satisfaction, reduces commuting emissions, and lowers overhead costs, leading to increased profit margins. This creates a win-win situation for both the environment and the company’s financial success; 
  • Recycling materials. Properly recycle outdated computing equipment to prevent harmful materials from entering landfills. Consider repurposing or donating old systems to minimise waste and contribute to a circular economy; 
  • Data centre power optimisation. Optimise data centre power consumption through best practices such as utilising outside air cooling, automating controls, removing unused servers, and striving for energy efficiency. 

By implementing these greener IT practices, businesses can take important strides toward a more sustainable future. Remember, every small action counts when preserving our planet for future generations. 

Greener software engineering? Damn, yes! 

As the world becomes more focused on sustainability, software engineering plays its role in driving environmental responsibility. Let us explore the latest trends in sustainable software engineering and how they contribute to a greener future. 

  • Green Software Engineering. It focuses on reducing the environmental impact of software development processes through optimisation and efficient resource utilisation. In 2021, Microsoft and other tech companies established a non-profit Green Software Foundation that focuses on developing standards, tools, and best practices for green software
  • Sustainable Software Design. It helps to create software with energy-efficient algorithms, reducing code size and minimising resource consumption to enhance overall IT sustainability; 
  • Sustainable Software Development. It enables adopting environmentally friendly practices throughout the software development life cycle, including using sustainable materials, waste reduction, and renewable energy sources; 
  • Green Data Centers. It supports designing data centres focusing on energy efficiency, utilising renewable energy sources, and minimising harmful chemicals in cooling systems. 

Sustainable IT is a paramount aspect of building a greener future. Embracing practices such as optimising data centre power, migrating to the cloud, recycling materials, and going paperless are tangible steps every business can take today. 

If you are interested in exploring cloud computing opportunities, assessing your IT architecture, software development life cycle or other IT domains, feel free to contact the Baltic Amadeus team today! 

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