IT Sustainability: 5 Possible Approaches To Green IT

Posted by Neil Sheppard on March 25, 2024
IT Sustainability: 5 Possible Approaches To Green IT

IT sustainability is becoming increasingly important as organizations come under pressure to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. Let's look at five ways your IT department can become more green.

IT sustainability is rising up board agendas across all industries. Regulators, the press, consumers, and employees are all putting pressure on companies to reduce their carbon footprints and IT is being chosen to lead the way.

Since computers run on electricity, the onus falls immediately on IT leaders to find ways to cut back on energy consumption without reducing productivity. How can you cut the carbon footprint of your organization's technology use while continuing to empower it with innovative technology?

Let's look at five potential approaches to optimizing the sustainability of your IT landscape.


IT Sustainability Approach 1: Cut Back On Your Electric Waste

Why does the responsibility for improving sustainability fall on IT? Well, around 2% of the world's carbon footprint is generated by IT, which is the same amount as the entire aviation industry.

IT runs on electricity, so takes more than its share of your organization's carbon footprint. As such, the obvious first step in cutting your carbon production down is to reduce the amount of electricity that you use.

This often involves training and educating your people on best practices for doing so. Basic steps like:

  • shutting down computers overnight, to reduce energy consumption
  • unplugging devices when not in use, so they don't continue to use electricity without need
  • implementing electricity reduction policies on machines, such as limits to screen brightness or battery efficiency options
  • de-activating devices like unused printers or servers when not in use
  • replacing energy-inefficient devices with greener options

When implemented across your organization, even these small steps will add up to a significant reduction in electrical output. This will not only please regulators, but also serve to cut back on your costs.

Cutting back on electricity can make your people feel like you're cutting back on productivity, but knowing what electricity is being used to support essential functions and what is wasted will allow you to avoid reservations. What's key here is understanding where an excess of electricity is being utilized by applications that don't warrant it.

That's why you need the LeanIX platform's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) capability map. This will give you detailed information about each application's sustainability and an overview of your carbon footprint.

To find out more about the ESG capability map we developed with PwC, read their report:

DOWNLOAD: Sustainable Enterprise Architecture From PwC


IT Sustainability Approach 2: Develop For Sustainability

IT sustainability doesn't just depend on the end user. We can build sustainability into our products and tools if we keep it in mind from the start.

Sustainable development means building software that's friendly to the environment by design. By creating software that takes less electricity to run, you can actually reduce the carbon footprint of your organization at the code level.

The principles of sustainable software development include:

  • Keeping code complexity at a minimum to reduce energy consumption
  • Making user interfaces that draw on a minimum of visual information to increase monitor efficiency
  • Utilizing cloud resources to reduce on-site server use
  • Using data compression and blockchain technology to minimize data transfer
  • Creating flexible, future-proof software to avoid technology obsolescence

By ensuring all the software you develop in-house is built using sustainable software development principles, and sourcing software from sustainable vendors, you can reduce the carbon footprint of your application portfolio and the IT components that support them. This won't just improve your sustainability and reduce costs, but simpler code means fewer errors and less technical support.

Efficient and sustainable coding benefits everyone, from your organization and employees to the planet itself. That's why it's key to keep detailed information on all of your applications and their sustainability using our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) capability map.

READ: Sustainability, Gen Z, And The Future Of IT


IT Sustainability Approach 3: Renewable Energy Sources

From managing IT sustainability at the code level, to cutting back on energy waste at the source, it's vital to look at the full spectrum. That's why it's also important to consider where you're getting your electricity from.

Renewable electricity providers ensure the energy you use is as clean as possible by finding alternate sources of electricity other than fossil fuels. These vendors guarantee a large portion of their energy comes from sources like solar and wind power that don't harm the environment.

Of course, making the decision regarding what electricity vendor your organization makes use of is beyond the responsibilities of most enterprise architects. However, making a proposal for a sustainable energy transformation with a comprehensive overview of the electricity use of your key applications is possible with the right platform.

The environmental, social, and governance (ESG) capability map that we developed in collaboration with PwC allows LeanIX users to map the carbon footprint of their application portfolio. Our platform empowers you to become a renewable energy champion for your organization.

READ: PwC On The Importance Of Sustainable IT


IT Sustainability Approach 4: Software Modernization

It's a simple fact that modern technology is more sustainable than legacy. Removing obsolete tech from your IT landscape and replacing it with newer tools will be an immediate improvement to efficiency, cost, and sustainability.

This applies to all your technology, including your software applications. As we discussed above, sustainable development can create applications that consume less energy and are better for the environment.

Paying off your technical debt and replacing outdated code with more-efficient software will have an immediate benefit for your carbon footprint. However, it simply isn't feasible to replace your entire application portfolio in one project.

Instead, you'll need to identify and target non-essential applications that are consuming excessive energy and retire or replace them to get the most value with the least effort. Combining an application portfolio assessment with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) capability mapping will show you how to make great strides in reducing your IT team's carbon footprint without disrupting your productivity.

The LeanIX platform offers both application Fact Sheets to log information against each software application, as well as ESG Fact Sheets to link energy consumption data to your application lifecycle information. Your application modernization project can then align with your ESG transformation.

READ: 5 Ways To Modernize Your Application Portfolio


IT Sustainability Approach 5: Hardware Modernization

IT sustainability through technology modernization includes the physical, as well as the software world. Having brand-new, artificially intelligent (AI), innovative tech tools running on Windows 3.1 in an outdated server isn't going to serve you very well.

It may not be as exciting as software innovation, but replacing outdated servers and operating systems with energy-efficient modern alternatives will ensure your hard work in application modernization isn't wasted on energy waste from old IT components. Once again, however, before you can replace these components, you need to find them.

Of course, your configuration management database (CMDB) will log the location of all your IT components. It won't, however, tell you when they're passing out of support or when they're consuming an excessive amount of electricity.

Using our out-of-the-box integration with the ServiceNow CMDB, you can connect the IT component information there with the application Fact Sheet and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) capability map data in LeanIX. Joining the dots, you can find exactly where in your IT landscape obsolescent technology is harming your energy efficiency.

READ: Technology Obsolescence Risk Management - The Why, The What, And The Who 

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