The Eco-design Unit, which is the national resource center for best practices in product development integrating the environment, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the circular economy, has produced a summary note. This clarifies the environmental issues of eco-design with three approaches that can be carried out simultaneously in the same project:
- IT for Green: A digital solution designed to reduce an environmental problem. The environmental impact of the eco-solution must be much lower than the benefits it generates on the environment.
- GreenIT: Defined in Article 1.
- Eco-design: Corresponds to the fact of integrating the reduction of environmental impacts from the design phase of a digital service with a global vision of the entire life cycle. This approach is supported by the CSR department and the business departments that design the products and services sold by the company. Ecodesign is therefore a practice to be adopted.
Companies are implementing various missions aimed at manufacturing and marketing products incorporating environmentally friendly materials that are more economical and can be reused and recycled. For example, IBM created the “Product Stewardship” program in 1991 to eco-design its products.
Also, WWF has published a report on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), which includes the fields of computing, telecommunications and electronics that have taken a considerable place in our daily lives.
« ICTs represent 13.5% of the French electricity bill and concentrate numerous chemical substances that are harmful to the environment and health. »
They are now essential since their proper design and use can reduce the negative effects of human activities on the environment. These technologies could help reduce 98% of greenhouse gas emissions.
As far as software is concerned, they are obsolete on average after 3 to 5 years and require a lot of energy. Still according to WWF, it is therefore not necessary to systematically update, disable superfluous functions (Windows services, etc.) and for internal developments, use software design patterns, algorithms, code architecture, etc., which reduce the need for hardware resources.
According to this organization, it is important to implement various actions to extend the period of use from 3 to 6 years for computers and 18 and 36 months for telephones in order to limit the manufacture of new equipment. This organization has thus proposed a checklist to be implemented by the information systems departments for an eco-responsible IS:
- Rethinking the information system by integrating environmental data: In particular at the level of the management of services, systems, networks and data. Users must feel involved in the processes as soon as IS modifications impact uses. Technical elements (virtualization, workstation shutdown software) may enable better results to be achieved, but they are not a sufficient solution.
- Make users aware of the impact of their daily gestures and create projects : Extending the duration of workstation use, reducing the volume of printing.
- Extend device life: Skip certain software versions (e.g. operating system), not excluding security updates to use the hardware for a longer period of time.
- Save energy: Make sure the equipment has an efficient standby mode (Energy Star label), put it on standby as much as possible, physically unplug power supplies.
- Properly manage the end of life of equipment: Promote reuse (reconditioning) and ensure that the equipment will be properly depolluted and request all the elements guaranteeing the traceability of the treatment.
- Buy responsibly and according to our needs: For example, reconditioned second-hand equipment (Ordi 2.0 label), for new equipment favour equipment with an eco-label (EPEAT silver minimum for IT) and ensure a minimum 5-year guarantee and that the equipment is easily updated.
« We are indeed at a tipping point: digital can both increase our environmental footprint and provide us with opportunities to reduce it and accelerate the transition. » Pascal Canfin, Director General, WWF France