If you stand, as I recently did, among Iceland’s lava fields to visit one of the world’s largest geothermal power plants, it’s easy to believe that making technology more sustainable is a challenge along the way. to be released.
From hydroelectric and geothermal power to air-conditioned data centers and newly laid undersea cables that enable the country’s sustainable computing resources to be used by enterprises across Europe, Iceland’s tech ecosystem points the way to a more sustainable future.
The reality is that getting people to see the potential of sustainability is far from a straightforward journey – and this is the same with the perspective of people who use technology as it relates to the challenges of creating green IT.
On the trip, I met Gisli Kir, a North Data Center specialist who has been developing sustainable technology in Iceland since 2009, a time when most people around the world didn’t think about their computer’s power source.
Also: this giant geothermal plant is surrounded by lava. It helps to solve the energy problem of the technology
Back then, people didn’t associate their Google search with anything: “It’s just a computer that runs on a battery.” You may not realize that there is a data center behind the activities you start doing while you are working. Start browsing”.
Gisli Kr. One of the first things North did, he says, was to measure web searches in terms of their carbon footprint. The company looked at popular videos online and calculated the carbon footprint.
While it may have been an innovative idea, it was not met with much enthusiasm. “We were considered activists at the time,” he says.
“Obviously, it was a bit of a challenge when it came to our go-to-market strategy and marketing message. At that time, nobody would argue with you about the need for sustainability. Everyone would say, ‘Yes, sustainability is obvious’ – but nobody would act on it.”
More than a decade later, there is a noticeable change in attitude.
But today, not everyone has access to a geothermal power station in the Lova field or hydroelectric power, which Iceland also has in abundance. And the sustainability issues in our use of technology go beyond the source of electricity that generates it.
While Gisli Kr. Sustainability is a big topic of discussion in boardrooms these days, he says, while other evidence suggests that too many executives are still too slow to turn environmental concerns into positive action.
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In its annual digital leadership report released late last year, employer Nash Square said sustainability is expected to play a larger role in decision-making processes.
However, more than a quarter (23%) of digital leaders think sustainability plays a negligible or no role in business.
What’s more, 22 percent of digital leaders are using technology to significantly measure their organization’s carbon footprint.
While those results make for worrisome reading, Nash Squad CEO Bev White said it’s also important to focus on positive trends.
As the technology to keep people working during lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic is put to the test, the use of video conferencing and cloud-based collaboration technology has skyrocketed. All evidence points to that shift to video — and perhaps even VR-based meetings one day — as a permanent fixture of post-pandemic work patterns.
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While running these digital services still requires a significant amount of energy, the shift means more people are flying around the world for meetings.
This is a positive step in the right direction, but White says technology decision-makers and their executive peers need to do more: “Research shows that the technology industry now has as much carbon impact as airline travel.”
Estimates indicate that the IT industry accounts for 3% of global carbon emissions. The largest contributor to greenhouse gases in the IT sector is data centers (45%).
Despite these concerns, sustainability has historically been neither a revenue-generating practice nor a cost-effective one. It is an activity that is often voluntary or, in some cases, driven by mandatory disclosure requirements due to government or corporate policies.
However, change is in the air. Consulting McKinsey found that 83% of C-suite leaders expect environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs to contribute more to shareholders in 2025 than they do today.
Given the importance of integrating sustainability into core business and customer propositions, Nash Square suggests business leaders have a two-pronged approach to sustainability: first, design and implement sustainable tools; And second, tying sustainability into the company’s values, products and services.
With these requirements in mind, Nash Squared White suggests five strategies for creating a proactive approach to sustainability:
- Take responsibility for change – “Now as business leaders we need to think about our carbon footprint,” said White, whose company’s research found that only a quarter of organizations have sustainability in mind.
- Continue to push the air travel down – “Technologists have done a great deal to limit the amount of air travel people do. So how do you put in some tools to keep up with this shift?”
- Monitor the use of technology – “As we begin to use more and more IoT-connected devices, there are many tools available to manage the business use of digital assets so that your organizations can be more efficient and produce less waste.”
- Extend technology life cycles – “Use your devices for a long time. Don’t rush to throw away your cell phone, desktop or laptop — they have a longer life than you think and extend your life without any impact on productivity.”
- Consider safe disposal – “How is the product being recycled handled? There are many small things we can do to reduce our company’s carbon footprint.”