IT: how to reduce the environmental impact | The Normandy Gazette

Once convinced themselves of the need to act in the face of the climate emergency, information system managers know that the task is difficult. The challenge is daunting: we must do as much, if not more, with less… However, digital energy consumption (the scope of which remains to be specified) is increasing by 9% per year, according to the think-tank The Shift Project.

First step: mentally convert to sobriety, to the concept of “ computer science frugal ‘by rejecting pretense, the ‘greenwashing‘; then obtain the support of the general management by presenting a strategy summarized here and a governance ad hoc ; create a steering committee or working group that will help raise awareness among all company employees, define realistic objectives and list the measures to be taken in stages.

It is then necessary to choose a method and tools to make an inventory – CO2 and environmental balance. The Ademe, Agency for Ecological Transition, offers them, as well as benchmarks, which will allow you to compare yourself and motivate yourself by measuring the improvements (see Guidetopten.co.uk).

Figures to refine

The figures, still relative, are becoming clearer: overall, the digital sector would represent 4.2% of the world’s consumption of “primary energy”, 3.8% of greenhouse gas emissions (including CO2), and 5.6% of electricity consumption. In France, digital would weigh 2.5% to 4% of the carbon footprint. According to Ademe, ICT (computing and communication technologies) represent 13.5% of total electricity consumption. And the overall share of companies would be 56%, against 44% for residential (individuals).

From one company to another, the electrical consumption of IT equipment varies greatly: from 2% to 5.3% (industry, health sector), up to 58% (services, specialized industries). The average would be 25%.

Similarly, consumption varies greatly depending on the equipment: an operating laser printer outputs 150 to 300 Wh (watts/hour) compared to 20 to 100 Wh for a PC, 10 to 30 Wh for a flat screen and 5 to 10 Wh for an inkjet printer.

Even turned off, a connected computer continues to consume. The worst: a photocopier, in standby mode, would only reduce its energy consumption by 20 to 30%; ditto for some laser printers.

Other black spots: datacentres: in France, they swallow up 10% of electricity production. An SME or a VSE is supposed to know the share (even a small one) that they use – via the cloudor not. The creation of vast data lakes that are irrelevant or even unusable has gone out of fashion. Make way for the new sobriety model ‘lean IT’inspired by heavy industries.

Consider manufacturing

Priority therefore to better visibility: entities such as the start-up Greenly offer audit tools. Note, among others, the DCEM global indicator for IT sites and infrastructures, supported by the NGO eG4U and promoted by the European standardization organization ETSI: it takes into account total energy consumption, the efficiency of the service, the use of green, reusable and renewable energies.

Consideration should also be given to the energy consumption required to manufacture equipment and software over the entire life cycle. In fact, the greenhouse gases (including CO2) released for their production weigh from 40 to 75% of the total balance of harmful emissions, including overall electricity consumption, for a lifespan of five to 10 years. The share of materials resulting from the extraction of rare earths (lithium, etc.) is also included in the count.

Extend lifespan

Hence the new obligation to extend the life of equipment. According to The Shift Project, an extra year of life for a smartphone (to 3.5 years) would reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by 26%; and for a computer, taking it to five years, the reduction would be 37%.

The rapid renewal of workstations is therefore no longer required. Some companies have calculated that systems under iOs (Apple Mac) or under Android were, from this point of view, much more advantageous than systems under Windows… In smartphones, we can cite the Dutch firm Fairphone.

In short, upgradeability or extensibility, as well as repairability, reconditioning and end-of-life recycling have become crucial criteria, pinned down by the Digital Sobriety law. Thus, new modes of purchase and consumption, reasoned and eco-responsible, burst into the office, as at home…


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IT: how to reduce the environmental impact | The Normandy Gazette


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