Sustainable Information Technology(IT)

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of sustainable information technology (IT). Sustainable IT encompasses the implementation of environmentally and socially responsible practices within the IT sector, aiming to minimize the ecological footprint while maximizing efficiency and performance. To measure and drive the success of sustainable IT initiatives, organizations rely on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics. Here, we have explored the significance of sustainable IT, delve into key KPIs and metrics used to evaluate its success, and provide examples of notable success stories in the field.

  1. Energy Efficiency Metrics:
    a. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE): PUE is a widely adopted metric that assesses the energy efficiency of data centers. It measures the ratio of total energy consumed by the data center to the energy consumed by the IT equipment alone.
    b. Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE): DCiE is another crucial metric that quantifies the energy efficiency of data centers. It represents the ratio of IT equipment power usage to the total power consumed by the data center infrastructure.
  2. Carbon Footprint Metrics:
    a. Carbon Emissions: Measuring and reducing carbon emissions is a fundamental aspect of sustainable IT. Organizations monitor their carbon footprint by quantifying the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from IT operations, including electricity consumption, travel, and data storage.
    b. Scope 3 Emissions: This metric captures the indirect emissions generated by the organization's value chain, such as emissions from purchased goods and services, employee commuting, and waste disposal.
  3. Waste Reduction Metrics:
    a. Electronic Waste (e-waste): Monitoring the volume of e-waste generated by an organization is vital in evaluating its sustainable IT practices. This metric assesses the amount of electronic equipment that is recycled, reused, or disposed of responsibly.
    b. Paperless Initiatives: Tracking the reduction in paper usage and the adoption of digital processes within an organization can demonstrate its commitment to sustainability.
  4. Social Impact Metrics:
    a. Digital Inclusion: This metric evaluates the organization's efforts to bridge the digital divide by providing equitable access to technology and digital resources across diverse communities.
    b. Ethical Sourcing: Organizations can measure the extent to which their IT supply chain adheres to ethical practices, including responsible sourcing of raw materials and fair labor conditions.

Success Stories in Sustainable IT:

  1. Google's Data Center Efficiency: Google achieved remarkable success in sustainable IT by consistently improving its data center efficiency. Through innovations in cooling systems, server design, and renewable energy sourcing, Google reduced its PUE and carbon emissions, setting new benchmarks for the industry.
  2. Microsoft's Carbon Negative Commitment: Microsoft committed to becoming carbon negative by 2030, aiming to remove all the carbon it has emitted since its founding in 1975. The company plans to achieve this through a combination of energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy procurement, and investment in carbon removal technologies.
  3. The Green Grid's Energy Efficiency Metrics: The Green Grid, a global consortium of technology companies, developed standardized metrics like PUE and DCiE, enabling organizations worldwide to measure and improve the energy efficiency of their data centers. These metrics have become industry benchmarks and have driven significant advancements in sustainable IT practices. 
  4. Salesforce's Green Cloud Initiative: Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, has made a commitment to sustainability through its Green Cloud Initiative. They aim to power their global operations using 100% renewable energy. Salesforce invests in renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar, to offset the energy consumed by their data centers and office spaces. Additionally, they have implemented energy-efficient practices, such as data center virtualization and server consolidation, to minimize their environmental footprint.
  5. Ericsson's Connected Mangroves: Ericsson, a telecommunications company, has partnered with the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and local organizations to develop a solution called Connected Mangroves. This innovative project combines IoT (Internet of Things) technology with mangrove restoration efforts. By deploying connected sensors in mangrove ecosystems, Ericsson is able to collect real-time data on water quality, salinity, and other environmental factors. This information helps conservationists monitor and manage the health of mangrove forests more effectively, contributing to climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. 

Sustainable IT plays a pivotal role in mitigating the environmental impact of the rapidly expanding digital ecosystem. By monitoring and leveraging KPIs and metrics related to energy efficiency, carbon footprint, waste reduction, and social impact, organizations can drive success in sustainable IT initiatives. The success stories of companies like Google and Microsoft highlight the transformative power of sustainable IT, inspiring others to embrace responsible practices and contribute to a greener future.

SDGs & Sustainable IT 

Sustainable IT touches upon several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their sub-targets. Here are the SDGs and related sub-targets that are particularly relevant to sustainable IT:

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

  • Sub-target 7.3: By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

  • Sub-target 9.1: Develop quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure.
  • Sub-target 9.2: Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization.
  • Sub-target 9.3: Increase the access of small-scale industrial and other enterprises to financial services, including affordable credit.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • Sub-target 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse environmental impact of cities, including air quality and waste management.

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

  • Sub-target 12.2: Achieve sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
  • Sub-target 12.4: By 2020, achieve environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle.

SDG 13: Climate Action

  • Sub-target 13.3: Improve education, awareness, and capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

  • Sub-target 17.16: Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources.


These SDGs and sub-targets emphasize the need to address energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, inclusive industrialization, environmental impact reduction, responsible consumption, climate change mitigation, and global partnerships. By implementing sustainable IT practices, organizations and individuals can contribute to achieving these goals and sub-targets.