There are things you and your organisation can do right now to help reduce carbon emissions.
Choose the lowest energy device
Encourage people to use lower energy consuming devices to view webpages. Smaller devices tend to use less energy than larger devices, for example:
- smartphone - 1 watt*
- tablet - 5.5 watts*
- laptop - 15 watts*
- desktop computer - 77 watts*
*Energy used is per webpage viewed
Switch off your devices when not in use
'Vampire energy', or standby power, is the energy consumed when a device is on standby, still plugged in and not fully shut down.
You can minimise the energy loss by turning off your electronic equipment at source rather than leaving devices on standby.
You can also save energy by adjusting the brightness of your screens according to the ambient lighting. Reducing screen brightness saves as much as 20% of energy used by an average computer screen.
Spring clean your data storage
Data use is growing exponentially, doubling every 2 years (Inside Big Data, 2017), needing more infrastructure to store it. There is a need to review whether we need all the data we have accumulated, and how long we need to keep it for.
Cleaning up, archiving, compressing or deleting files can reduce the amount of storage space needed. Consider an annual ‘spring clean’ of your files and data, by removing unused or unnecessarily large files on your devices.
Go fully digital to increase your digital collaboration
Using digital tools such as 'Skype for Business' to host meetings can reduce the need for travelling to meetings. On average, a 4 hour return train journey emits as much as 11.64kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) per person.
Whilst this may seem small, the numbers can add up quickly. Where there is potential for hosting meetings online, this should be considered as a priority to improve accessibility for those who cannot meet in person, reduce CO2 emissions, and reduce costs.
Going paperless not only reduces your environmental footprint but can improve your efficiency at work.
There are many applications and services which can enhance your productivity, organisation and increase your digital collaboration with your colleagues, without the need for print.
Use low resolution image and video files
Use the lowest resolution you can for large image and video files. Living in a world of exponential data growth, its management and reduction becomes a key issue as data use and storage equates directly to energy and material use.
Image resolution has a huge impact on data requirements. In fact, for non-business internet, 80% of data transfer is online TV streaming. Watching a high definition (HD) movie at home often has a higher carbon footprint than a trip to the cinema.
This means a choice of standard resolution video streaming for the coming step change in smart phone GP appointments could have a huge sustainability impact.
Buy green energy and hardware
There is major variation in the sustainability credentials of electronics devices.
A huge 80% of energy use in electronics such as smartphones and laptops is energy used to build devices during the manufacturing process.
Procurement teams, therefore, need to look at the entire process of creating these products, from material sourcing to manufacturing, from production to disposal. There are organisations that can help us understand the scale of these impacts, whilst highlighting the good practices of technology companies.
The Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics is a useful resource to start understanding this issue in more detail and accreditations such as TCO Certified also apply.
Cloud storage first
Cloud storage facilities typically try to use server space and power in the most efficient ways possible (Government Digital Service, 2018).
Cloud storage providers have been evaluated based on energy mixes used to power their data servers.
Use Greenpeace's Click Clean tool to find out which cloud-based server offers efficiency in cloud providers.