December 19, 2016

ICTs use a lot of energy. What’s your organization’s ICT footprint?

By Laura Baracchi:

Today’s digital transformation is said to have a positive effect on the environment, however, information and communication technologies (ICTs) require lots of energy. Today, almost 10% of all energy used and 4% of carbon emissions in the environment are calculated as coming from ICTs only.

Sustainability has become a key aspect of technological progress, but pushing on the accelerator of innovation without focusing on sustainable solutions is a short-sighted approach that just won’t work. And with the Fourth Industrial Revolution in its infancy, the demands of energy and resources for computing systems, networks and the supporting e-infrastructures are growing exponentially.

ICTFOOTPRINT.eu, the European framework initiative for energy and environmental efficiency in the ICT sector, supports all ICT-intensive organisations in improving their sustainability by reducing their environmental impact while also saving on expenses and becoming more competitive.

We reckon that most of the 10 million ICT-intensive small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) around Europe are scarcely aware of the issue of ICTs’ environmental impact and have insufficient knowledge of the methodologies that are already available to measure their organisations’ carbon footprint and thus lower it.

Did you know that often only 1% of the energy is used by a computer’s equipment, compared to the amount of energy that has to be generated so the equipment can work? The room for improvement is wide.

Raising awareness

ICTFOOTPRINT.eu raises awareness about ICT’s sustainability; offering an online catalogue of existing methodologies for adopting low-carbon solutions; showcasing success stories; providing a free online marketplace that brings together the buyers and sellers of solutions for ICT energy efficiency; and providing, in the next six months, a self-assessment tool to help users calculate their organisation’s carbon footprint.

The framework also organizes impact gatherings like conferences, workshops and webinars to raise awareness on the ICTs’ carbon footprint and best practices for lowering it, involving leading-edge researchers but also renowned industries, standards development organizations (SDOs), policy makers and innovators. All past webinars are online! ICTFOOTPRINT.eu also maintains a lively newsletter to keep you always up to date with the latest information on ICT sustainability and related events & innovations.

Key role of standards

An interactive map of ICT related standards addressing sustainability issues from different perspectives on the ICTFOOTPRINT.eu website guides users across these standards, providing accessible explanations and useful hints for application. These include ICT Standards listed under Goods, Services, Organisations & Cities and specifically, ITU-T, ETSI, GHG Protocol and EN, IEC.

ICTFOOTPRINT.eu is actively engaging with the most relevant ICT SDOs as standardisation is a major asset for achieving improved interoperability and also energy efficiency. Because of the variety of standards and their complex technical specifications, ICTFOOTPRINT.eu aims at introducing and democratizing the main aspects of an environmental assessment approach as well as guiding the user though the identification and implementation of the most relevant standards.

ICTFOOTPRINT.eu is filling the gap to provide organisations, public administrations and citizens with the right knowledge, technical solutions and motivation to become more sustainable. We are addressing the issues of ICT energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission while also improving their efficiency, becoming more competitive and earning a better public image.

Laura Baracchi
Laura Baracchi is Project Manager and Senior Researcher at Trust-IT Services, which coordinates ICTFOOTPRINT.eu. She is involved in several EU-funded and ESA-funded projects in the area of systems and software model-based engineering, system verification and validation, safety and security, formal verification methods, and component-oriented development methodologies.
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ICTs use a lot of energy. What's your organization's ICT footprint?

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