Technology has revolutionised the way we live and work; but it also generates a carbon footprint that we as users are often unaware of.
The use of electronic devices, the servers where data are stored or the networks that help us communicate contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.
For some time now, various trends have been emerging that reveal the need to move towards more sustainable technology. And this is where Green IT is born, the response to reduce the impact of technologies on the environment.
The sustainable design, development, use and disposal of technology is known as Green IT, Green Computing or simply Green Technologies. It is a vision whereby computers and any kind of technological component must, in addition to fulfilling their function, limit their impact on the environment.
This can be done in a variety of ways, for example, through low-emission technology, energy-efficient devices, eliminating planned obsolescence, reducing waste generation, using recycled components in their manufacture, and so on. In short, reducing the environmental impact throughout the value chain, from design and assembly to use by end-users and, subsequently, end-of-life treatment.
Technology contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions
According to the Boston Consulting Group, the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) sector is responsible for 3-4% of global CO2 emissions, ahead of aviation and shipping. The speed at which the sector is growing could raise these to 14% by 2040.
And this is only part of the larger challenge that Green IT aims to address. Another problem is the generation of “electronic waste”, which, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, already amounts to 50 million tonnes and is growing daily. This “waste” is polluting as electronic devices contain elements such as heavy metals that can be a problem if not managed properly.
We therefore need to act on these two major challenges to reverse the situation and achieve a twin goal: reducing pollutant emissions and regenerating ecosystems.
Green IT seeks to reduce the environmental impact caused by technology, but without compromising its performance and features. Its aim is to further advance technology towards sustainability and help achieve climate goals. The agenda for the digital transformation of Spain, “Digital Spain 2026”, maintains the target of 10% reduction of CO2 emissions through digitalisation by 2025 that was included in the initial document “Digital Spain 2025”.
Sustainable technological growth is only possible if we transform the way we produce the energy consumed by the sector
In this scenario, the energy transition will be crucial to achieve this goal. Sustainable technological growth is only possible if we transform the way we produce the energy consumed by the sector. Data centres alone, which are key to the digital transformation, could consume between 3% and 8% of the world’s electricity by 2030. The IT sector’s commitment to renewable energies will therefore have to be decisive.
As we have discussed on other occasions, there is no longer any doubt that the future is digital, but it must also be sustainable. And of course, the environmental benefit is clearly the most prominent and sought-after benefit of green technology. But it is not the only one, as this quest for sustainability can lead to others, some of which stand out, such as the following:
It is important to take advantage of all the potential that technology offers, but to try to push for the most efficient and sustainable options
It is important to take advantage of all the potential that technology offers, but to try to push for the most efficient and sustainable options.
An increasing number of companies are relying on innovation and digitalisation as levers of change to accelerate the decarbonisation process. This is the case of Enagás, which is committed to continuing to make progress towards achieving maximum efficiency in its technological systems, thus contributing to its commitment to sustainability and offering the company true Green IT.
In an age of teleworking, e-commerce, personal devices and videoconferencing, Green IT is the way forward to a more sustainable future.