We have previously noted that over half of UK organisations are en route to miss net zero targets, which begs the question; what can we do about it? In this article we will look at five predominantly digital projects that can make your organisation greener and play a part in course correcting towards net zero.
1. Green up your strategic objectives
As with most things business related, you want to have buy in from the top as you set environmental targets that can be measured and reported on. At Storm, we are currently reviewing our Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to make sure we focus on the most valuable areas for the biggest impact both long and short term.
2. Green up your website
We often see clients with websites which include thousands of pages that are never used. In addition, these might have poor information architecture, navigation and content design which often leads to unnecessarily long and unsuccessful user journeys. As an average website emits 3 grams of carbon per page load (and probably as many grams of frustration for a busy user), we want to make sure that as few pages as possible need to be loaded to complete a journey.
Further, the average web page today is nearly four times the size of a page in 2010, and is continuing to rise. This is where environmentally sustainable web design comes in, designing websites to lighten their carbon load through design principles such as reducing file sizes (images, videos), reducing surplus animations and tracking scripts as well as using green hosting. As environmentally sustainable web design is a key solution for a greener web, we will cover this in more detail in future articles.
3. Green up your intranet
Similar to external websites, an intranet should be intuitive to navigate and meet user needs. A common culprit we have come across in addition to non-intuitive navigation, is document dumping without clear ownership or governance. Remember that digital is physical and the thousands of documents that should in fact have been deleted are emitting carbon through the data centres hosting them.
Adding the emerging challenge of document management across several platforms (e.g. intranet, Teams, locally, and any other cloud storage) will most often make for both a confusing user experience and completely avoidable emissions through clear platform strategy and governance.
4. Green up your comms
Most organisations today will probably use a combination of email, video calls and internal chat platforms to communicate internally as well as with clients and customers. It has been calculated that over 64 million unnecessary emails are sent by Brits every single day, and that if every Brit sent one less thank you email a day, we would save 16,433 tons of carbon a year – for context, that equals 81,152 flights to Madrid.
Aside from unnecessary emails (maybe don’t hit reply all or CC 10 people if you don’t have to), the biggest culprit of emails are attachments. While a standard email emits 4 g CO2e, an email with attachments can create 50 g CO2e. The simple solution here is to switch out your attachments to a link to your now tidy intranet or client cloud space. This linking of documents applies as much to chat platforms as it does to email.
Video calls are certainly nice as we don’t see each other in person so often anymore, but streaming video has significant environmental impact as discussed in last month’s article. A positive action for the use of video is to simply turn off your camera when it is not serving a clear purpose (think big calls where everyone is looking at a shared screen instead of each other). Making this the norm and company culture can reduce significant emissions when added up.
5. Green up your IT procurement
Making environmental sustainability a factor in IT procurement is a structured way of using devices better. In addition to using energy efficiency ratings as an assessment factor, consider the lifetime value of the device within the full lifecycle of the product.
To put this in another way, the carbon emissions over a device lifecycle stem predominantly from production. Estimates of production emissions vary from 50-80% of a product lifecycle, and research shows that extending the lifetime of a computer from 4 to 6 years could avoid the equivalent of 190kg CO2e. As organisations often need to renew devices at certain intervals to deliver their services effectively, a solution is to refurbish your devices for re-sale or donation for a longer lifecycle. Naturally, buying refurbished devices when possible is another great solution.
Get the ball rolling
If your organisation is looking to course correct towards net zero in a sustainable digital transformation, or you find yourself in a position to green up your organisation’s website or intranet, we’re always open for a conversation.