Green Computing: discover the good practices
With global warming and the depletion of natural resources, environmental concerns have become major issues at the societal, political and technological levels. The digital sector in particular generates more than 3% of global greenhouse gases, what is more than the aeronautics sector. To limit this digital pollution, Green IT standards and eco-responsible practices are being developed and integrated into Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSR).
As an IT professional, discover all the good practices of Green Computing.
What is Green Computing?
Before seeing the good practices, it is important to understand what Green Computing means. This relatively recent concept, also known as Green IT, aims to reduce the consumption of energy and resources of the digital sector at the level of:
physical equipment and terminals (with data centers in the first place);
the use of the network (optimization of the number of server round trips in particular);
programming (with eco-design practices of softwares and websites);
electronic waste management.
Another major challenge of green computing is to reduce the use of energy from fossil fuels. This integration of energy considerations into the development cycle of IT systems and applications includes a set of standards and labels. One of the best known is the Energy Star logo which is an important measure when selecting IT equipment and data center items. But Green Computing is also essentially based on a set of good practices implemented by companies and IT professionals.
3 good practices of Green Computing
1) Increase the energy efficiency of data centers
According to a report of the European Commission published in 2020, the energy consumption of data centers increased from 53.9 TWh/year to 76.8 TWh/year between 2010 and 2018. In 2015, the energy consumption of data centers was already equivalent to about 4% of the global energy consumption in the world…
Data centers are therefore at the top of the list of concerns when it comes to green computing. To decrease their energy consumption while optimizing their operation:
monitor the use of servers to identify in particular those that are not used or underused;
study the percentage of data stored on the site versus cloud storage (it may be appropriate to move some items on the site and reduce your cloud storage needs);
compare the energy needs of the different servers, opting if possible for more energy-efficient equipment;
deploy alternative energy sources (geothermal cooling, hydroelectric and wind power, etc.).
For IT professionals and companies, the challenge is to choose a truly green data center supplier by checking its ESG ratings (Environmental, Social and Governance performance) or the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rating. .
2) Prioritize digital sobriety for sites and applications
The concept of digital sobriety was defined in 2008 by Green IT, an association gathering IT professionals committed to responsible digital technology. For this collective, digital sobriety refers to " the approach of designing more sober digital services and moderating daily digital uses ".
It is based on good data and application consumption practices, but also, and above all, on the design of web pages and software. These good practices relate as well to:
the creation of the site or the software (precise definition of the needs and functionalities);
mobile-first optimization (choice of appropriate technologies and framework);
templating (optimization of css files and other visual elements);
the server code (optimization of the cache system, use of templating model);
hosting and storage (minification of css, js files, virtualized servers, etc.).
3) Establish corporate policies that emphasize green computing
If until recently, IT departments did not really feel concerned by the subject of CSR, the economic and health crisis has pushed them to take an interest in green IT. CSR is indeed a part of a company's overall performance approach and represents a strong communication tool.
The computer system and services often represent a major expense and investment item for companies, whether in terms of equipment, human resources or simply the electricity consumed. By rationalizing their use, organizations can reduce these costs while developing an image of an organization committed to the environment.
To implement greener IT, organizations are investing and adopting other modes of operation that include more DSIs and IT experts.
Organizational CSR can now include:
training and raising employees awareness of digital pollution and to good practices to reduce it;
the implementation of teleworking;
optimization of cloud computing and virtualization strategies;
the pooling of resources between departments or even between companies;
the use of renewable energies in the premises;
the establishment of a recycling channel for digital waste.
However, IT is not just an area to be optimized and controlled. It can also help organizations reducing their environmental footprint. The oldest and most telling example is probably that of paper printing replaced by digital documents. Even if digitization has an energy cost, it remains lower than the purchase of consumables and equipment. With the advent of cloud computing and in particular SaaS, which makes it possible to share and modify the same version of a document online, this digital footprint is further reduced.
Finally, many greener alternatives are developing at the level of data centers, but also mailboxes, file hosting systems, internet browsers, etc.
And you, as an IT professional, have you noticed an evolution of companies and information systems towards green computing?
Which actions are you implementing in business or on a personal level to strengthen your digital sobriety? Share your advice with us on the IT forum!
Useful sources and links:
The Green IT website: https://www.greenit.fr/
The ADEME report on the hidden face of digital technology: https://librairie.ademe.fr/cadic/2351/guide-pratique-face-cachee-numerique.pdf?modal=false
The European Commission report on eco-efficient cloud services: