The Eco-Advantage: 5 Ways Digital Transformation is Lowering Carbon Emissions


7 minutes
Digital Transformation is Lowering Carbon Emissions

Technology has breathed fresh life into my efforts to reduce carbon emissions. In my 20 years in Silicon Valley and now as a digital transformation consultant, I’ve seen the power of digital innovation. It’s like a cascade of vibrant pixels, splashing across an old cathode-ray tube monitor, and with each burst of color, they’re reshaping the corporate landscape towards a more sustainable future.

Migrating to the Cloud

The cloud. A concept as ephemeral and all-encompassing as the atmosphere itself. It’s truly remarkable how migrating IT systems to cloud-based solutions can pave the way towards achieving net zero targets. Just last year, IDC estimated that cloud computing could eliminate a billion metric tons of CO2 emissions by the end of 2024. How so? Simply put, it’s because cloud services rely on large-scale data centers armed with energy-efficient hardware, and increasingly, powered by emission-free energy.

We need to appreciate the differing scopes of emissions in play here. Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are where cloud computing really comes into its own, but the benefits don’t end there. Reduced hardware and software investment, simplified management, easy scalability – it’s a technological smorgasbord.

From Old Paper-based Processes to New Digital Services

The second step involves digitalizing legacy processes. In today’s fast-paced world, those old paper-based processes feel as outmoded as a dial-up modem. With digital services, we can cut down on both energy and material waste. Plus, moving to digital can improve user experience significantly.

We saw this transition in action when COVID-19 hit. Processes requiring face-to-face interactions were suddenly outmoded, and digital-first services took center stage. But it’s not just about going digital – it’s about optimizing what’s already there. Low-code platforms, machine learning, AI – there’s a whole spectrum of tools available for iterative development.

Minimising Energy Production during Company Meetings

Remember when meetings required actual, physical presence? COVID-19 changed all that. Now, a meeting is just a Zoom call away. But we must remember – every silver lining has a cloud. A report from Forbes revealed that video conferencing produces roughly 1kg of CO2 per session. That’s a lot of emissions for a Monday morning meeting, isn’t it? But, by simply turning off our webcams, we can reduce our carbon impact by a whopping 96%.

Keeping an Eco-Conscious Mindset When Optimizing Device Performance Settings

It’s not just about the big things. It’s about the little habits too. Adjusting power settings, lowering brightness levels, turning off autoplay – all these contribute to a “digital sobriety” that can substantially lower our carbon footprints. Even leaving your laptop plugged in can absorb around 235 kilowatt-hours a year. It’s time to rethink our digital practices, isn’t it?

Furthermore, by limiting our use of GPS and data tracking services, we not only protect our privacy but also significantly reduce digital information ingestion – a double benefit!

Switching to Renewable Energy Sources and Greener Digital Tools

Finally, let’s talk about renewable energy. The rise of affordable, small-scale green energy appliances is a boon for both companies and individuals. Solar power banks, off-grid systems – these green energy gadgets are the tech equivalent of planting trees.

Data centers and cloud providers can be energy-intensive, responsible for 5% of general digital emissions. Choosing greener alternatives helps maximize energy usage and efficiency. The EU has already pioneered the use of “green-clouds” and green-computing systems – a step in the right direction.

Overall, these are the times to think about our carbon footprints. We have the digital tools to make a change. All we need is the will to wield them. If not, the price could be higher than any of us can afford. As the old saying goes, “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Isn’t it time we started thinking about the due date? As I always say, “Let’s get digital, not critical!” Now, who’s with me?

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