Today a majority of French employees work long hours in front of a computer every day. What is the impact of these digital working methods on the environment? Back in computer graphics on the study carried out by GreenIT.fr for Club Green IT and Cigref.
514 kg of greenhouse gases and 23,555 litres of water per year
CIGREF and Club Green IT present the "Green IT 2016 Benchmark", an audit of the environmental footprint related to an employee's daily digital activity. The working group has identified levers to reduce this footprint.
As a result of the digital transformation of businesses, digital activity is occupying a growing place in the daily lives of more and more employees around the world. Concerned about the environmental footprint of these digital activities, CIGREF (which has long been involved in sustainable development) and the Green IT Club have asked GreenIT.fr (in collaboration with the Fing as part of its Transitions programme) to carry out this benchmark. It involved 9 major private and public companies, 515,000 users, nearly 3 million IT and telecom equipment and 56,400 m2 of computer rooms.
Areas for progress
In particular, four effective short-term areas for progress have been identified. They relate to practices that are simple, quick and inexpensive to implement:
- Extend the life of equipment by promoting reuse rather than recycling ;
- Buying responsibly by simplifying this process through the use of eco-labels;
- Reduce the volume of prints and choose FSC or Blue Angel certified paper;
- Use electricity made from renewable primary energy.
On the social dimension, three areas for progress are also emerging:
- Promote the integration of more fragile populations when purchasing services;
- Linking re-employment and social issues, with priority given to actors of the solidarity economy (disability and integration) for the reconditioning of equipment;
- Integrate/include more internal and external users via digital accessibility.
Progress to be sustained over time...
For Sophie Bouteiller, Mission Director at CIGREF, "The overall assessment of the Green IT 2016 Benchmark is positive. It shows that large organisations that take the means to reduce the environmental impact of their information systems have a global footprint up to 3 times smaller than organisations that do nothing".
However, Frédéric Bordage, a GreenIT.fr consultant, notes that "By 2020, the usual sources will begin to dry up because organizations will have implemented the majority of the good practices grouped together in the Green IT Good Practice Reference published in 2015 by the Green IT Club.
It is therefore up to the Information Systems Departments to invest in order to perpetuate and strengthen the approaches outlined in this "Green IT 2016 Benchmark" and to identify new levers. One of these new levers offers strong potential for reducing the environmental footprint of digital technology: software eco-design.
"Feedback from the pioneers shows a very significant potential, in the order of 2 to 100 times less computer resources required, at all levels of the information system. Provided that we focus on the design and not on the lines of code. indicates Frédéric Bordage.
This approach is all the more important as connected objects, big data, 5G, etc. are becoming more and more commonplace, and are not leading to a more rational and sober use of the company's IT resources.