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Action 2

DIGITAL GREEN PRACTICE DATABASE HOW CAN WE IMPROVE OUR DIGITAL ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT?

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On the following site, we have gathered a collection of best practices showcasing how everyone can reduce their ecological impact. However, the idea is to share and implement concrete examples from Luxembourg.

If you come across any other interesting ideas, please feel free to share them with us. Better yet, if you can envision overseeing a pilot project, please contact us.

 

The main solutions can be broken into two actions sets:
  1. Implementing digital eco-design principles throughout the entire digital chain.
  2. Extending the lifetime of our devices.
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Software
Choosing a green web or cloud hosting service

There is a wealth of different hosting services, however only a few companies have adopted conscious principles like hosting with renewable energy or providing high social standards for their employees. The Green Web Foundation offers a preliminary directory of green web service hosts.

Instating mandatory eco-design criteria for public digital services

Public procurement calls for digital services (e.g., development of a public app) should include mandatory eco-design criteria. Potential examples of these principles could be:

  • Mandatory distinction of software updates that fix technical issues/bugs and ones that offer functional upgrades.
  • Opening up APIs related to public services.
  • Etc.

Apps and other software are now the key factors that cause hardware like smartphones or computers to become obsolete. Opening up the source code may highly extend the lifespan of certain hardware products and digital services. Concrete examples of eco-designed products and services are plentiful and constantly evolving. Have a look of some examples.

Using labelled software

Software programs can be more or less energy and resource efficient while active or on standby. Eco-friendly labels like Blauer Engel are now establishing clear criteria for software based on energy-efficiency, general resource-usage and API transparency.

Utilising the full computational power of your computers and helping scientific research

Standard office tasks (like emails, word processing, online research, etc.) only use a tiny portion of the overall computational power of your computer. In that sense, a significant percentage of our resources are not being used efficiently. Knowing that most professional hardware will be replaced after just a couple of years, we can be more socially and ecologically responsible by making more efficient use of our devices. Projects like BOINC developed by the Berkley University, put your computer’s idle computational capacity to work by performing calculations for scientific research projects like fighting cancer or climate change. In this way, computers all over the world are being linked to form super-computers, offering free computational time for researchers. Similar projects exist for mobile phones, such as the Dreamlab app.

Optimise the ecological footprint of your website and digital communication services

External communication with inhabitants, customers, etc. is conducted via websites, newsletters and emails. Optimising these communication methods (e.g. reducing image quality) should be a high priority for every marketing department.

Centralised document storage

Avoid sending working documents as email attachments. Instead, share the access link for these documents, which are either stored on your local server or in a web-based cloud. Sending emails with attachments to one or multiple recipients is the least energy-efficient option.

Hardware
Sharing hardware within apartment blocks

Install one common device like an internet router or tv box for the use of all residents. Opting for better quality equipment or service would aid in the user experience and both the ecological and economic gain would be significant. You could take it a step further by sharing common hardware like printers, scanners, video projectors and playing consoles. Installations of this kind could become mandatory for every newly built apartment unit.

Using alternatives to flat screens

The ecological footprint of the manufacturing process of flat screens is disastrous. Furthermore, the trend of constantly increasing size and screen resolution is not compensated by the improved energy efficiency of these screens. Small and highly performant LED projectors may offer a fantastic alternative to flat screens.

Choosing labelled hardware

Some computers, phones and computer accessories (mice, keyboards, etc.) are more energy efficient than others. A brief overview of the most common energy labels can be found here. Consider replacing your computer mouse at the end of its life with a greener alternative like the Fair Mouse (nager-it.de) or opting for a more socially conscious smartphone, like the Shiftphone or the Fairphone.

Establishing an inventory of unused equipment

Surprisingly, stores of unused equipment like desktop computers can be found in the basements of schools, associations and some administrations. Municipalities may coordinate an inventory database and organise the re-use of these devices.

Sharing hardware and software between institutions

Associations, clubs and schools often purchase their own hardware, like computers and printers, software and servers. Many of these products are inefficient for the individual users and resources are being wasted. Municipalities could coordinate a common purchasing or leasing agreement of hardware and software to be shared by all institutions.

Establishing dynamic leasing contracts

Companies and some public bodies often lease their hardware and software for a predetermined amount of time. It would be beneficial to negotiate dynamic leasing plans in order to periodically exchange unused hardware and software instead of renewing the entire equipment. If this flexible solution is not an option, extending the initial leasing offer by one or two years can save a significant number of resources.

Choosing cable over Wifi over 4g

Data transmitted via 4G requires 5-20 times more energy than transmission via ADSL +WIFI. Furthermore, ethernet cables are more efficient than data being transferred via WIFI.

Repairable computer hardware

Some computer hardware such as keyboards, scanners, printers and soundcards are much easier to repair than others. It’s worth researching the reparability of a given product before making a purchase. Specialised websites like ifixit.com provide practical and useful guidance. Public and private actors can encourage the creation of regular repair cafes.

Powering off your modems and computers

Hardware like modems, computers, printers, etc. should be completely turned off when not in use, and not merely set to sleeping mode.

User behavior
Unsubscribing from newsletters

Not simply deleting but fully unsubscribing from unwanted newsletters should become a commonplace habit for every email user. The overall quantity of newsletters received per user will have a direct impact on the data required to send them out.

Choosing apps using renewable energies

There are many apps that offer comparable services. So why not prioritise apps that run on renewable energy? An inventory of such apps can be found here: clickclean.org.

Reducing streaming quality

The ecological footprint of visual streaming services (videos) can be instantly improved by downscaling the quality. Ultra-HD or similar is not always necessary and can be adapted in the default streaming settings.

Using greener search engines

Environmentally conscious search engines like Ecosia compensate the carbon footprint of every web search by planting trees. Ecosia is a leader in developing new “company ownership models,” which prevent the company’s mission and financial benefits from being misused, sold or modified by any investors, board members or others.

Closing unnecessary programs running in the background and uninstall unused apps

Unused programs and apps are still using resources. Backups are unnecessarily increased and these apps could potentially slow down your computer. Closing or even uninstalling these apps and programs should systematically be done

Establishing links between IT and environmental protection communities

Municipalities can play an important role in bringing together local tech enthusiasts and nature conservation volunteers by organising meetings, workshops and hackathons. Both citizen science and established scientific monitoring programs (e.g., bat counting) operated at the local level could upgrade their impact considerably by teaming up around specific projects. Furthermore, linking these results on a global level could enhance the scientific understanding of certain phenomena. Intersecting science and conservation by providing meeting, exchange and support platforms could unlock interesting and impactful synergies. Have a look at these great examples.

Help support our Grénge Web initiative by implementing one or more of these ecological practices. We will be glad to help you in any way we are able.

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Useful tools for improving your digital ecological footprint:

PRIORITY 1

The Green Web Foundation

Choosing green hosting services

Green Concept

45 examples of eco-responsible digital practices

ClickClean

Choosing programs running on sustainable energy

PRIORITY 2

ICT Eco-Footprint

Estimate the carbon and energy footprint of your digital services

ICT Tools

List of other tools and services to improve the ecological footprint of your digital office

Ecoindex

Improve your website

Priority 3

Open Technology Guide

Guide and great collection of open technology projects

Open Life Cycle Assessment Tool

Free and open source software for Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment

GHG Protocol forSoftware

GHG Protocol ICT Sector Guidance for Software