7 Ways Sustainable Computing is Changing the Tech Landscape


November 14, 2023

It can often feel like the digital world functions independently from external reality. But every email you send and Skype call you make has an environmental impact. From the components that comprise data centres to the electricity that powers them, all the underpinnings of our IT ecosystem draw from the Earth’s natural resources. So if we wish to enjoy a healthy, profitable future on a flourishing planet, sustainable computing is key. 

What is sustainable computing? 

Also known as green computing, this practice is aimed at combatting environmental pollution. Sustainable computing rests on the tenets of energy efficiency, reducing e-waste, and advocating for environmentally friendly materials. It’s not just about being green – it’s about being smart and responsible in how we use and create technology.

As an eco-conscious managed services provider, we can tell you that the perks of sustainable computing extend beyond the main imperative of saving the planet. By getting on board, you can look forward to significant cost savings through the use of energy-efficient devices. Sustainable computing practices can also help you meet industry regulations, avoid compliance issues, and demonstrate your commitment to social responsibility. This makes it a win for the environment but also a win for you, your community, and the economy at large. 

Curious to learn a little more about green computing and what it can do for your business? Here are seven ways sustainable computing is making waves in the tech world:

1. Reducing the Tech World’s Carbon Footprint

One of the most significant impacts of sustainable computing is its potential to reduce the tech industry’s carbon footprint. Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) are exploring the environmental impact of computation and the future of green computing. They are examining every aspect of computing, from chip architecture to data centre design, identifying stages where the most emissions occur, and paving the way for more sustainable practices in IT.

For businesses that use technology and work with IT service providers, this could mean a significant carbon footprint reduction. But the benefits don’t stop there. Adopting these green computing practices can also lead to cost savings in the long run. Energy-efficient systems often result in lower operating costs. With the growing focus on sustainability, businesses that take the lead in this area could also enhance their brand image and customer appeal.

2. Optimising Manufacturing Processes

Sustainable computing is leading to innovations in manufacturing processes. The SEAS research team found that most emissions related to modern mobile and data centre equipment come from hardware manufacturing and infrastructure. They are exploring ways to design better processors and reduce the complexity of devices. The ultimate aim is to lower manufacturing emissions.

Innovations in manufacturing processes brought about by sustainable computing have significant implications for modern business owners. If the tech industry can design better processors and reduce the complexity of devices, we can look forward to reduced manufacturing emissions, increased environmental sustainability, and cost savings that should be passed down to end users. 

How exactly does sustainability cut costs? Reduced complexity often means fewer resources are required in the manufacturing process, which can translate to lower production costs. Furthermore, energy-efficient devices typically have lower operating costs, providing savings over a device’s lifetime.

3. Extending the Lifespan of Devices

America’s National Science Foundation (NSF) awards millions of dollars of funding each year through its Design for Environmental Sustainability in Computing (DESC) program. One of the newly funded projects is focused on extending the useful lifetime of computing systems, thereby “paying off” their carbon costs over longer periods.

Extending the lifespan of computing systems presents a multitude of benefits for modern business owners. Longer-lasting devices mean less electronic waste, which is a significant contributor to environmental pollution. By reducing e-waste, businesses can play a crucial role in mitigating the environmental impacts of the tech industry. Thus, the NSF’s focus on extending the useful lifetime of computing systems is not just a step towards sustainable computing, but also a stride towards sustainable business practices for everyone.

Moreover, sustainable computing aligns with the growing consumer demand for environmentally responsible practices. Adopt such measures, and you can enhance your brand image and appeal to a broader customer base. In an era where sustainability is a key differentiator, extending the lifespan of devices can provide a vital competitive edge.

On a purely practical level, increasing the longevity of your devices allows you to avoid the expenses associated with hardware upgrades and replacements. Not only would this lead to direct financial savings but it could also reduce the downtime associated with installing and configuring new systems.

When a hardware upgrade is unavoidable, Managed IT Services Providers (MSPs) like Invotec can get you up and running on the new system in record time. You’ll enjoy minimal disruptions plus support and training to ensure you and your team adjust effortlessly to the new system. To learn more about this style of IT outsourcing, visit our complete guide to MSPs

4. Promoting Reuse and Recycling

Another project funded by the NSF DESC program aims to reduce carbon emissions from chip manufacturing by reusing recently retired computer chips. By connecting these chips in new ways, the researchers hope to create devices that can compete with newly fabricated chips.

This practice aligns with the global push towards a circular economy, where resources are kept in use for as long as possible. Businesses that adopt such sustainable practices can enhance their corporate social responsibility profile, potentially attracting more customers and investors who value environmental stewardship.

5. Developing Eco-Friendly Materials

The DESC program is also funding research into the development of eco-friendly computing materials. This could lead to a reduction in the environmental pollution caused by the manufacturing of electronic devices and computers.

By reducing reliance on potentially harmful materials, business owners in every industry can mitigate the risks associated with environmental regulations. You can also avoid potential backlash from environmentally conscious consumers. 

Interestingly, the use of eco-friendly materials can even boost employee engagement. Most people take pride in working for companies that prioritise sustainability, so investing in eco-friendly technology can lead to increased job satisfaction and productivity. If your business could do with a little more productivity, take a look at our guide to working smarter, not harder, and boosting your output with the right technology. 

6. Harnessing Cloud-Powered Technologies

According to research by McKinsey, cloud-powered technologies such as AI, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) can accelerate decarbonisation initiatives. These technologies – which can be run faster and more effectively through the cloud – not only lead to operational savings but can also help you optimise resource use.

By leveraging cloud-powered technologies, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to global sustainability efforts. Moreover, these technologies can reduce the cost of implementing a decarbonisation initiative by 2% to 10%. 

In addition to the environmental benefits, adopting cloud-powered technologies for sustainability can lead to significant economic advantages. Given previous estimates that achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 would require spending $9.2 trillion on decarbonisation per year, the cloud’s potential contribution through these technologies could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

7. Encouraging Industry-Wide Change

Perhaps the most significant impact of sustainable computing is the industry-wide change it’s encouraging. As Assistant Director for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate at NSF Margaret Martonosi said, “By promoting research and development that integrates environmental considerations into computing, we are addressing critical environmental challenges and contributing to a sustainable future.”

Interested in Sustainable Cloud Computing Solutions? 

Of all the transformations and advancements described above, cloud computing stands out as the most readily available and impactful for Australian businesses. If you’re ready to embark on a journey towards a more sustainable and prosperous future for your business, cloud computing with Invotec is the perfect starting point. Our friendly IT consultants are just a phone call away, ready to guide you through this transformative process. Dial 1300 468 683 today, and let’s start building a more efficient future for your business.

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