What is Green IT?
Green IT, otherwise known as Sustainable IT, refers to the manufacturing, use, management, and disposal of technology in a way that minimises its impact on the environment.
By nature, information technology is often not eco-friendly. Natural resources are required for the raw materials used to manufacture computers, the power used to run them, and the process of disposing of them.
Additionally, data is constantly being created and stored. Every minute, approximately 240,000 images are uploaded to Facebook and 72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube. The number of servers and data centres is increasing to keep up with the demand to store and share information online. All this hardware requires vast amounts of power to run, and even more power to cool it down using air conditioning systems.
Why we should all embrace Green IT
All businesses, no matter their size or industry, are reliant on technology to run effectively. We work on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones all day, connected to servers running 24/7. Because technology is progressing so quickly, we often replace these devices after a few years in favour of newer versions. Additionally, businesses generally waste resources in the form of energy, paper, money, and time by using unsustainable servers, unmanaged printers, and old technology.
With that in mind, it’s crucial you do everything you can to ensure your IT systems are as sustainable as possible by adopting a Green IT approach. All businesses that rely on data storage are responsible for this, not just the tech giants who store our data online, like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo etc.
Furthermore, with the increasing pressure of climate change, government legislation is likely to tighten around this issue in the coming years. You can get ahead of the trend and avoid cost in the future by ensuring your business abides by Green IT solutions now.
Green IT: What are IT vendors doing?
Generally, tech companies are now building computers with more environmentally materials and designing them to consume less energy. Moreover, there is now plenty of opportunity and resource to recycle old equipment at its end of life.
Specifically, companies like Apple have taken more extreme steps to abide by Green IT practices. For example, in 2018, 96% of Apple’s electricity came from renewable energy. Additionally, in autumn 2018, they started making their MacBook Air and Mac Mini outer casings from fully recycled aluminium. As well as launching a partnership with American electronics retailer, Best Buy, whereby they added multiple Apple-certified repair professionals to Best Buy stores across the country, aiming to extend the life of Apple products by making certified repairs more readily available.
Green IT: What can my business do?
There are several ways UK businesses, of any size, can reduce their carbon footprint whilst remaining tech savvy. Cloud computing is one of the most significant and beneficial ways companies can abide by Green IT.
Cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing services (such as servers, storage, networks, software etc.) via the internet, as opposed to physical servers.
If you currently store all your company data on in-house servers, you need to consider cloud computing. Cloud computing is not only more environmentally friendly, but also more efficient, cost-effective, and appropriate for remote or hybrid working.
Physical servers take up space, require maintenance, and together with cooling systems, require a lot of energy. Researcher, Greenspace, found that if approximately 6,000 companies shared data centre resources, compared to having their own in-house servers, they could collectively save approximately £45 million in energy bills per year and nearly 595 million kilowatt-hours.
Companies also tend to under-utilise their physical servers. Disk space is held in reserve, but the running costs are the same regardless of whether you use this space or not. For example, a company with 2 TB worth of data stored on a 10 TB server must still pay for the larger storage solution, as well as the higher cost of powering and cooling the hardware – purely so the business has room to grow.
However, with cloud computing, all your data is stored in a secure data centre (the cloud), and you only pay for what you use. The cloud removes the need for any in-house equipment other than the devices you’re working from, e.g., desktops and laptops. Plus, without the need for a physical server, you will have saved valuable space in your office that can be better utilised.
In addition, by removing bulky, power sapping hardware from your offices, you will dramatically reduce your energy costs. Storing your data in a purpose-built data centre leaves efficiency to the experts. Whilst the environmental impact of data centres is large, it’s much lower than the alternative of every business having their own in-house server.
What are the benefits of cloud computing?
- More environmentally friendly, contributing towards Green IT as it reduces the need for on-premise energy-sapping servers and cooling systems
- Frees up valuable space in your office (especially valuable in London!)
- Cheaper than buying and maintaining physical servers, plus reduced energy costs (Green IT and cheaper!)
- Less stress worrying about your physical IT infrastructure as it’s all managed by experts at data centres
- Hardware is more reliable, and all servicing and upgrading is taken care of
- If a disaster occurs in your office, your data won’t be affected as it’s stored in the cloud
- Employees can access data securely from anywhere, using any device, contributing towards effective remote or hybrid working
- More cyber secure, as data centres have robust security measures in place to protect your data
- SaaS applications can also be run from the data centre, removing the need for bulky and energy-consuming devices. Plus, almost every kind of application is available in the cloud, from personal productivity apps to accounting software.
Green IT: Other ways to be sustainable
1. Minimise travel
Whilst face to face contact is required for some meetings or events, the pandemic has proven that businesses can continue to operate effectively without it. For example, opting to use a video conferencing tool, like Microsoft Teams, will save you time and money whilst reducing your environmental impact, compared to travelling to another city or country for a meeting.
2. Work from home
Similarly, Green IT can be directly linked with a hybrid working policy. If employees can work remotely, their carbon footprint will be significantly reduced as they won’t need to commute into the office. Modern technology, such as cloud computing, communication tools, and cloud phone systems all make remote working easy and efficient, leading to high productivity rates and increased employee satisfaction.
3. Managed print services
A managed print solution is another way organisations can embrace a Green IT approach. Employees often print without thinking or checking the settings first which can result in printing nightmares – like 50-slide presentation decks coming out in colour with one slide per page!
A managed print solution allows you to customise how you print. For example, you can apply default print settings to all users, such as double-sided printing in black ink. Alternatively, you can reduce paper consumption through card or pin-controlled printing which helps place accountability on employees and acts as a deterrent for unnecessary printing.
4. Recycle old IT equipment
Finally, when it comes to saying goodbye to your IT equipment, you should ensure it’s disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Files deleted from hard drives are still recoverable, so ensure these are safely destroyed. The remaining hardware can be recycled for use in new devices or donated to charities and schools. Alternatively, metal, and plastic casing parts may be recycled for use in manufacturing. If you’re a Netstar client, contact us for more information on how to recycle your old IT equipment.
If you’re keen to adopt a Green IT approach to your use of technology, your IT partner can help advise you on the best solutions for your business and the environment.
For more information on Green IT, or any of the other IT solutions detailed in this article, contact us today.