Green IT: What can companies contribute to future-proof and sustainable digitization?

In the previous part in our Green IT blog series, we have already informed you about the problem of digitization and the associated consumption of resources. We have been able to show you from numerous studies that digital does not equal resource efficient. That is why IT, as a driver of digital transformation, has a significant contribution to make to ensuring that environmental and climate protection is implemented accordingly.

In this article on Green IT, we would now like to look a little more specifically at what exactly companies can do to create digital infrastructures that can help realize this responsibility through initiated measures. But before we do that, we will first grasp the concept of Green IT and define its goals.

Definition: What exactly is Green IT?

The term Green IT describes the complex of topics of sustainable information technology. Green information technology should therefore contribute to climate and environmental protection. This includes the development of products and services that serve information and communication technology. This refers to the entire life cycle of these products and their resource consumption, such as the electricity, water or even raw materials required, raw materials.

Objective: What are the goals of Green IT and what methods can it use?

Green IT thus aims to encourage the cultivation of a conscious use of resources, while continuing to help expand the digital transformation sector. In the following, we present a brief summary of the goals of Green IT. At the same time, we also want to try to name the ways in which these can be realized.

Reducing environmental impact: Energy consumption when using digital infrastructures and keeping resource consumption low when it comes to hardware and software, as well as keeping pollutants low, are included in this category. Printouts, paper, waste heat and pollutants are also included here. In principle, minimizing the negative impact is the main focus of any sustainability strategy on the ambitious path to a climate-neutral Europe, especially with the keyword climate-neutral Europe footprint.

Please also read our blog post on the EU Green Deal.

Durability vs. throw-away mentality: Durability and recyclability is the focus of hardware manufacturing. In addition, the focus is on energy-saving disposal and rebrushing in accordance with the EU legal standard RoHS and WEEE. If the hardware is defective and irreparable, it must be properly sorted out and disposed of so that the parts that are still usable can be returned to the cycle and recycled for the manufacture of other equipment. Proper disposal also refers to non-recyclable equipment. Considerable preliminary work can be done as early as the selection of the appropriate manufacturer during the acquisition process. By the way: Multifunctional devices are also a gentle alternative for equipment purchases.

In this context, a recently published study by SOTI also showed a growing importance of Enterprise Mobility Management: EMM solutions manage, control and monitor employees’ mobile devices. They also help extend device life through software updates and device maintenance.

When thinking about buying new equipment, a conscious reflection process should first be undertaken. You are welcome to follow this little Guide:

  • Reconsider: Is there no way around a new acquisition? Has the useful life of the device really been exhausted? Reflect on this well and, of course, seek expert advice.
  • Refurbish: The use of old equipment can be extended by replacing components. Check this variant as well. If this fails, investing in used equipment is the more sustainable option.
  • Remanufacture: In the same way, when disposing of electrical equipment, care should be taken to keep parts that can be used for other equipment. You can use them on occasion to build new equipment or replace parts.
  • Recycle: If nothing else can really help, the device must be nearing the end of its life cycle and serve the sustainable purpose after disposal.

Centralization of digital infrastructures: IT services and devices are managed by a single IT organization. All departments submit their requirements to a central office. That’s why when rolling out these infrastructures, sustainability is an enclosed component along with efficiency, stability and security.

Cloud computing helps move IT resources to off-site data centers. Thus, cloud hosting services can also be used to offload data from internal servers to the cloud. In order to ensure that service providers work in a resource-friendly manner, it is also a good idea to make a prior check via certifications. These services will contribute significantly to facilitating IT processes (backups, synchronizations, downloads, etc.).

When it comes to operating a server room, energy-saving methods should also be considered here: passive cooling, darkening, additional insulation and optimized heat dissipation. Even small tricks to influence heat buildup, such as setting up the server room in the central part of the building, shielded from sunlight, can make a difference.

Energy generation from renewable sources: Installing green power can reduce energy demand and also lead to savings. Using more efficient equipment, disposing of unused technology, and taking advantage of energy-saving modes will also save significant amounts of energy. Renewable energies such as wind, hydro or solar power can be tested for their transparency by consumer centers in compliance with auditing standards. For complete energy self-sufficiency, however, companies can think about mounting photovoltaic panels or wind turbines through a variety of providers.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) with regard to fair working conditions in production and the supply chain is also included in the sustainability strategy.

Recommendations for action: What can companies do?

Educating yourself extensively about an IT sustainability strategy is the first step. But now implementation expertise comes into play: What exactly can companies do to adapt their IT infrastructure for the sake of the environment?

We offer tips that can make the sustainable transformation a success!

Paper Output Management: Digitized Bureaucracy

The goal is to reduce paper printouts as much as possible. Even if this cannot be implemented immediately and it will probably be a lengthy process to dissolve these traditional structures, considerable improvements can be achieved through the conscious use of paper, ink, toner, electricity, CO2 and waste. The POM deals with the selection of suitable hardware, settings for print optimization, economy modes for reducing material consumption, controlling systems, etc. A variety of system houses can provide professional service for companies here. And are you actually familiar with inkjet technology? It is an excellent solution for environmentally friendly and flexible printing processes.

Modern Workplace: Tools for modern communication

Networking departments of all companies used to be possible only by attaching various telecommunication devices such as fax, stationary telephones or the like. Especially due to the pandemic, short-term, alternative networking solutions were sought to enable smooth and location-independent communication in organizations. Modern VoIP phone systems replace devices, collaboration solutions such as MS Team, Slack, Asana and others form flawless and efficient alternatives. These tools modernize the workplace, centralize data management, and improve work processes to boot. The result: increased energy efficiency, cost savings, and higher, on-demand scalability.

Managed Document Services: Cloud computing for digital document management

The paperless office is a step in the right direction. It still sounds like a utopia. Nevertheless, it is crucial for the contribution to sustainability. The elimination of paper is also accompanied by changes in work processes, which are governed by digital document management. It enables the simultaneous and location-independent viewing and editing of documents such as Presentations or invoices. Cloud computing offers resource-saving, time-saving and efficient infrastructures for this purpose.

New Work: The New Normal of the Working World with Improved Environmental Performance

Once again, the pandemic has done a catalyzing job. Because with the breakout and the switch to home office, conditions for the workplace of the future could be created spontaneously and unexpectedly. Despite the abolition of the home office obligation, however, the new model has evolved from a benefit to a standard for most employees. Numerous studies confirmed that the majority of companies will switch to at least hybrid work models, which means a significant gain for the climate and the environment: fewer business trips, less commuting, better logistics processes. This is why cybersecurity is playing an increasingly important role in this context: If mobile working is to continue to be pushed as the standard, solutions such as Enterprise Mobility Management are needed. The tools on offer can be used to monitor mobile devices in order to limit the security risk. According to surveys, such solutions are now already among the important elements of IT sustainability strategy.

Corporate culture: creating awareness among the workforce

Considering all the practical information about the use of environmentally friendly technology, the sensitized awareness of the using person must not be missing in any case. After all, the strongest force in the change to a green technological future is the human being himself. By changing small habits such as shutting down the PC, the screen saver during the lunch break or the energy-saving mode, the foundation stones are laid within the corporate culture. Do you really need the printout? Do you need to Google the menu again right now? Again, remember: each search engine use can add one watt of electricity to the environment! On top of that, rely on configured standby modes or switchable power strips – small technological tricks with a big impact.

Sustainable data strategy: managing data as a key element

We outlined the astronomical figures for data transfer and the associated energy consumption for you in the previous blog post. The exponential growth of data is also unmanageable in enterprises. Energy-intensive storage capacity is needed to hoard this data. Therefore, data handling strategies must be developed that place special emphasis on sorting data by importance. Only data that is indispensable for optimizing the operating processes should be stored. Here, too, processing is to be centralized, since nested folder structures, for example, draw considerably more power during backups. The times for backups or synchronizations of data must be coordinated according to workload. AI can be an excellent complement to this: This is because it can start the processes precisely when sufficient renewable electricity is available.

Green IT holds enormous fruitful potential for companies if they are willing to take the necessary steps to expand their digital infrastructures in an environmentally friendly way. As experts in the field of sustainability, we can offer you comprehensive consulting services and support you in change projects with our expertise and passion for the subject. Please feel free to contact us for this purpose.

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