Is environmentally-sustainable IT possible?

by First Focus 29/11/2022

Guide, Information Services, Services, Sponsored Content, Technology

This is a sponsored article from member First Focus.

We all know that climate change is a huge issue and that, as business leaders, we must do something about it.

And as the world becomes increasingly digitised, organisations need to consider the environmental sustainability of their IT practices.

Businesses can adopt a method to help the environment by making their IT practices more sustainable. This is often referred to as ‘Green IT.’

What is Green IT?

Green IT is a term used to describe environmentally sustainable computing – managing information technology in a way that considers the environment.

While definitions vary, the aim of Green IT is to end up with an industry that is environmentally sustainable both today and in the future.

To get there, organisations need to start considering how their IT requirements can affect the environment – and what actions they can take to minimise, offset, and otherwise improve their impact.

What steps can your organisation follow to enable green IT?

Resources can always be used more efficiently, and as technology advances, new opportunities arise to do more with less. It is better for the environment and can also help ease budgetary constraints.

Start by auditing your current IT infrastructure

Before making changes to your IT infrastructure, it’s essential to understand where you’re starting from. An IT audit is a vital first step in any Green IT initiative.

  1. Audit the current state of your infrastructure, including the hardware used by your data centres, the software your systems are currently using, and your current energy requirements. Draw up the costs in terms of capital expenses and operating costs of your existing infrastructure.
  2. Measure the costs between your current IT environment and a system that puts the environment first.
  3. See if you can find savings through adopting cloud, virtualisation, and automation to offset any costs incurred by switching to this greener IT system.

While you may find you have to spend more upfront on becoming more environmentally friendly, you may find that the costs can result in savings in the long run.

Go paperless

Paper is a significant source of waste, both within offices and the world at large. Paper products also require plenty of resources to make and can contribute to water pollution. In IT, paper documents are primarily redundant, replaced by digital collaboration tools like online meeting platforms and document management systems. You can also use e-signatures to replace paper-based contracts, eliminating paper from your IT environment.

Consider moving to the cloud

You’ve heard of cloud computing – and probably use it without knowing. This is where applications and data are stored on a remote server and accessed over the internet. Cloud computing is used in everything from personal data storage to enterprise-grade applications. This means that users don’t need to have their own copies of applications and data. One machine can now be used to run multiple virtual machines. This can reduce the number of servers needed, which saves energy.

Switch to renewable energy

The next step is to source renewable energy for your IT infrastructure. Many providers offer green energy, so you’ll have a lot of options to select from. The Australian government’s GreenPower website offers a federally certified program that makes it easy to recognise and purchase renewable electricity that meets stringent environmental standards.

By sourcing renewable energy, you’re reducing the amount of CO2 emissions from your current energy source. You can even go further and use green energy for your data centres, allowing you to make an even more significant.

Use environmentally friendly infrastructure

More manufacturers are now offering solutions with ecologically friendly outcomes in mind. For example, the Teracube 2e is a budget-friendly smartphone with a replaceable battery and a four-year warranty. The plastic used in the phone’s construction is recyclable – no glue is used in construction – and replacement parts are available directly to the public. The result is a smartphone that does away with many of the common issues that cause people to throw away their old smartphones, reducing landfill and helping enable a closed-loop economy.

Go beyond carbon offsets to achieve IT climate positivity

Carbon offsets are one way to reduce your carbon footprint, basically paying a company to draw down and store carbon in a stable form to offset the carbon released by your organisation’s activities. In many cases, this takes the form of reforestation projects, with new plantings helping to draw carbon from the air at a measurable rate. However, climate positivity goes beyond reaching carbon neutrality and requires your organisation to be responsible for sequestering more carbon than is freed by its regular activities.

Recycle your e-waste

Computers have the potential to be very eco-unfriendly. Old electronic appliances contribute around 100,000 tons of e-waste annually – many of these appliances still contain toxic metals and chemicals that can pollute the environment. Moreover, many materials used in IT equipment are resource-intensive to produce and can be refurbished or recycled. When you discard old electronics, you need to make sure you dispose of them via an e-waste recycler that is certified eco-friendly. Your IT department can initiate a regular drive to replace and repair damaged equipment, with a dedicated bin for discarded electronics that gets sent directly to your recycler of choice. Many managed IT service providers offer these services alongside regular IT management solutions.

Measure your progress

Ensure you have systems that can help track and measure your progress towards Green IT. This can be as simple as forming an internal team to identify core action areas and having them create a spreadsheet listing a range of eco-friendly initiatives, deadlines, and responsibilities. You can take these initiatives one step further by publicly sharing your actions and outcomes through a transparent third party focused on ecological sustainability.

Support green IT in your industry

Suppose you feel you’ve done everything you can inside your organisation to support sustainable IT. In that case, the next logical step is to make these measures more accessible to colleagues and compatriots across your industry. Not only is it good for the planet, but the more acceptable these options become, the cheaper and more accessible the related solutions become.

  1. Advocate for change: Make sustainability a priority within your industry and advocate for change at all levels.
  2. Offer employee education: Raise awareness about the importance of green IT practices and educate employees on how they can make a difference.
  3. Implement industry policies: Use connections to industry and legislative bodies to promote green IT practices, such as energy-efficiency standards and e-waste recycling programs.

Green IT starts with us all

Environmental sustainability is not a luxury – it’s an essential component of business operations, including your company’s brand image. While ensuring that your organisation is seen as a socially responsible organisation can help increase your company’s competitiveness, this image should not be pursued in the name of “greenwashing” your brand.

The best way to make Green IT happen is to commit to an environmentally sustainable IT department – either on your  own or with the help of an externally certified IT provider.

About First Focus

First Focus is Australia’s #1 managed IT service provider. We’re number one because we want to help people use technology to make a difference. And that includes technology solutions that allows us all to care for our environment.

This is an article from a Member. The views and opinions we express here don’t necessarily reflect our organisation.

by First Focus

This a sponsored post published on behalf of First Focus.