With the massive increase in access to and consumption of digital resources, the impact of digital technology on the environment is becoming a real issue for organizations. So how do you reconcile your digital acceleration while minimizing your carbon footprint? To answer this question, Jalios asked two of its customers, the Pas-de-Calais department and the Brittany region, the first region to obtain the Responsible Digital label, as well as the company Greenspector to share their points of view and elements of response.
The Pas-de-Calais department launched its digital workplace in January 2019. According to Thierry Gourlain, the department's digital platform coordinator, the platform's primary objective was not to be eco-responsible: rather, the issues were to facilitate communication and collaboration between agents. However, the use of the platform has helped to minimize environmental impacts by reducing data traffic.
Through the creation of collaborative spaces, the digital platform has generated behavioral changes on the part of employees within the department's various divisions. Thierry Gourlain cites, for example, "functionalities such as videoconferencing, in place of traditional meetings, which have helped to reduce employee travel. [...] By developing the FAQ, wikis that allow you to create meeting agendas and minutes with attachments directly in the document, it avoided a lot of heavy emails. The same goes for knowledge, and small tutorials explaining the steps and procedures that have made it possible to avoid numerous trips, meetings or video explanations".
To ensure that tomorrow's digital technology is sober and sustainable, the Brittany region has chosen to rely on the responsible digital label, awarded by the Institut du Numérique Responsable (INR). Obtaining this label provides a 360-degree view of responsible digital practices and translates into a commitment by the region to an action plan for the next three years. Thus, the region has established a roadmap defining a new governance strategy, communication awareness, and the hardware and software aspect (data centers)...
Hervé Le Luherne, responsible digital project manager for the Brittany region, explains how the label was obtained and the key measures: after a diagnosis of the consumption of its digital resources throughout the projects, the region was able to establish indicators for the implementation of its responsible digital policy. The region was accompanied by the company Greenspector in this process of eco-design of its digital services.
But this is not enough! With the aim of eco-designing tomorrow's public services for greater digital sobriety and sustainable economic development, Hervé Le Luherne insists on "the importance of communicating these strategies to train elected officials and raise awareness among agents, but also to correlate digital purchases and NR, and to control its printing, infrastructure and data center policy. Thus, the region is a driving force in the construction of an ecosystem with sustainable channels that will allow this change to take place at scale and in the long term.
The more time we spend on a screen, the greater our environmental impact as users. Thierry Leboucq, president and founder of Greenspector, reminds us of the importance of measuring in order to detect the potential factors of over-consumption coming from functional designs such as over-functionalities, over-design, or over-content, or from the development of greedy codes and their production, which consume large storage spaces and digital energy.
The user's consumption path (scrolls, clicks, new windows opened, etc.) on screens and web pages can be captured by power meters positioned in the cloud or installed directly on the user's computer: "These power meters monitor the energy consumption of digital resources and connected objects, enabling organizations to benchmark themselves via a scoring system. They can then make more reliable environmental metrics projections and improve them throughout the project life cycle.
Browsing habits and computer usage are not the only factors that play a role in the digital carbon footprint. It also depends on the type of software used, the network, and the storage space. Thierry Leboucq explains that "it is necessary to choose the software which optimizes your TCO (Total Cost of Energy). Indeed, the efficiency of the software products, according to their type, is altered over time, impacting their energy consumption and their environmental impact". Similarly, the type of network access (2G, 3G, 4G, WiFi, wired...) impacts the volume of data transmitted, the number of requests, data transport logistics, etc. Finally, data centers, depending on the carbon value of the electricity consumed, the PUE or the rate of use of the machines, can also impact the carbon footprint of digital data.
These are all factors that need to be taken into account, measured and analyzed, to ensure that we don't follow "bad intuitions" and have a positive overall digital environmental impact.
Interviews during the "..." roundtable organized by Jalios on May 18 during DW Days. Download the replay by clicking here.