Powering up for sustainability: How we can make a difference with IT, saving the planet one byte at a time

Fousmi Abdul Gaffoor, Global Lead ESG and Sustainability Services

Companies focusing on sustainability reduce costs, manage risks, and enhance brand reputation through eco-friendly practices.

Fousmi Abdul Gaffoor, Global Lead ESG and Sustainability Services

Sustainability is increasingly critical for businesses, driving long-term growth, customer loyalty, and regulatory compliance. Companies focusing on sustainability reduce costs, manage risks, and enhance brand reputation through eco-friendly practices. There's strong evidence that firms with robust Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings also enjoy higher profitability, dividend payouts, and lower risk profiles. The global business landscape is shifting towards sustainability, spurred by consumer, investor, and regulatory demands.

Technology plays a pivotal role in this transformation, offering tools to accelerate net-zero transitions and build sustainable value chains. Companies leverage technology to improve their ability to plan, optimize, execute, and report progress on their sustainability initiatives.

○ Understanding sustainability of IT vs. sustainability by IT

○ When discussing technology and sustainability, businesses must focus on two key areas: Sustainability by Technology and Sustainability of Technology.

Sustainability by Technology leverages digital solutions to improve real-world processes, such as optimizing supply chains. Key actions for achieving sustainability in business include transitioning to net zero, adopting responsible value chains, offering sustainable choices, and measuring ESG activity. Innovations like digital twins leveraging technologies like IoT, AI, and data analytics enable businesses to reduce energy consumption, track carbon footprints, and develop sustainable products. Integrating these technologies helps businesses meet their sustainability goals.

Sustainability of technology involves minimizing the environmental impact (E) of IT operations, ensuring ethical governance (G), and promoting social responsibility (S). This includes,


Green IT

Technological advancements have environmental consequences. In 2007, the ICT sector contributed 1.5% to global CO2 emissions, rising to 4% today and potentially 14% by 2040. Training a deep-learning AI model with 213 million parameters can emit over 313 tons of CO2. Green IT focuses on optimizing technology to minimize its environmental impact.


Unveiling digital footprints: Measuring IT's environmental contribution

The digital footprint encompasses carbon emissions from IT operations, including data centers, electronic devices, and software development. Accurate quantification of these emissions is crucial.

Accurately quantifying the carbon emissions from IT operations involves several steps:


Reducing the digital footprint

Minimizing digital footprint through green IT Strategies

Minimizing the digital footprint in IT operations is crucial for environmental sustainability. Adopting Green IT strategies involves optimizing hardware efficiency, promoting carbon awareness, enhancing energy efficiency, and developing resource-conscious software. Efficient code, green hosting, minimalist design, and energy-efficient algorithms are key components of sustainable software development. Managing lifecycles sustainably, minimizing data, and educating users on efficiency further reduce environmental impact and align with corporate sustainability goals.

Embracing sustainable software development practices

Sustainable software development integrates efficient coding practices, green hosting choices, and minimalist design principles. By optimizing software lifecycles, minimizing data storage and processing, and continuously optimizing performance, organizations can meet environmental standards and maintain transparency in their sustainability efforts. Compliance with regulatory requirements ensures software development aligns with corporate values and reduces its environmental footprint.

Leveraging technological innovation for green computing

Rigorous assessment of performance metrics identifies inefficiencies ripe for technological modernization. Transitioning to cloud-based solutions or edge computing can enhance efficiency and reduce energy consumption. Techniques such as automation, model reuse, compression, meta learning, and energy benchmarking are pivotal in greening traditional and AI-based applications. Neuromorphic computing architectures offer promising avenues for sustainable computing, leveraging biologically inspired neural networks for energy-efficient, parallel computations.

By integrating these strategies and innovations, businesses can achieve sustainable development goals while advancing technological capabilities and reducing environmental impact across IT operations and software development practices.

Connect with an expert to learn more about Green IT strategies and how UST can help.