The journey on how to make IT more climate smart has just begun! Let’s get you started with some real climate changers that you can go about and work with immediately!

Devices

The devices (computers and mobile phones) that your users work with daily has a huge climate impact. Did you know that a typical corporate laptop has the equivalent CO2 emissions as an airplane flight from Stockholm – Madrid or Seattle – Chicago, basically about a 4-hour flight!

By choosing more climate smart options and also using devices longer than today, you can significantly reduce climate impact in the device lifecycle. What is the carbon footprint of a typical corporate laptop? and also see the links to PDF documents from all major vendors of devices such as computers and mobile phones.

Datacenter

The major actors when it comes to offering datacenter features are Microsoft and Amazon and they both have clear environmental goals. It it however obvious that Microsoft is the most aggressive of the two giants and will not become climate neutral as most other companies, but Microsoft will be climate negative by 2030!

What you can do is to measure and assess how climate friendly your own datacenter is and if it would be smarter to go more hybrid or fully cloud to increase sustainability for your IT.

If you can achieve the same sustainability as the major vendors but for your own datacenter do that!

Software development

Developing code can be done in truly sustainable ways. Important aspects can be to have as efficient code as possible, object oriented for instance, and having a small code base which is performant.

Microsoft provides thorough guidance on climate smart software development in Principles for Sustainable Software Engineering.

Physical meetings

With the coronavirus pandemic it was once and for all proven that we can work remotely! However, as we all know that working remotely works, I think it also becomes very clear that there is no solution today that can replace meeting other people physically.

When you do meet physically on long distance, of course, travel by the most climate smart option that is available. This is very often train but can be other means of travel as well. As many organizations are global it often rules out train.

When and if flying, make sure that your sustainability policy includes adding biofuel to the travel policy. This is without doubt the most impactful thing you can do today.

While leaders in the European Union are discussing adding a requirement of 1% of biofuel to the European flight industry, you as an organization (or private person) can add biofuel to your flights up to 100%. This can reduce CO2 emission up to 80 percent!

Last but not least…

Well, this last one is more of a humorous thing from my end, and it is also something that I find many IT departments keep bragging about. This is, enabling double-sided printing! Although this is indeed good and every effort counts, it is what it is, a very small water drop in the ocean. Go back to the start of this page to get some ideas on how to dramatically do something good for the environment! 🙂

Summary

We must start somewhere and start with what is causing the most impact on the climate ad Earth by doing an inventory and even some rough calculations can guide you in the right direction!

References and additional links

Update November 30, 2020 with Sustainable Software Engineering after inspiration from Tim Nilimaa-Svärd and Srilatha Manne.