What is sustainability?

A brief introduction to the topic, and why it is relevant also for the IT industry.

3 min read


By Ane Mengshoel


December 10, 2022

Did you know that your digital work impacts climate change? And that you are in the position to reduce the environmental footprint by thinking sustainability at work?

"Sustainability consists of fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations, while ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care and social well-being."

Source: Santander Scholarships

This figure shows three circles which somehow overlaps. The circles are labelled environment, economics and society. The area which overlaps is where you find sustainabilty.
The three pillars of sustainability

The use of digital technologies affects the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

"The Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a "shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future."

Source: Wikipedia

Read more about the goals at United Nations website.

The picture shows the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Below you'll find a few things we in the IT industry can do to meet the sustainability goals.

Reduce the amount of data stored

All data in the clouds are stored in data center storages. These use a large amount of energy. Less data stored means less energy used for storage.

Why not arrange a digital cleaning day at work?

Consume less energy by writing clean code

Cleaner and more efficient code means less processing, and your computer algorithms will consume less energy. In general you should set up an architecture using only the resources needed. The code also becomes more sustainable to maintain.

Make sure your cloud is "run" by renewable energy

Of course you still need to store a certain amount of data, but you can make sure that the data center is run by renewable energy.

For the growth in data traffic to be sustainable, they need renewable energy.

Make sustainable design decisions

This can be everything from reducing the size of photos on a website and to choose a default font, to give the user the possibility to choose dark mode in order to improve battery life and reduce carbon emissions.

Here's an article about the world's most sustainable fonts, while Lighthouse can help you to analyze the page load on your website.

Help other companies to utilize their data in order to make sustainable decisions

Through our work, we can help our clients to better understand their data and how these can be interpreted. This can improve the quality of the foundation that decisions are based on, also those affecting the climate. Data can for instance be used to detect inefficiencies in production and further contribute to optimalization in production, reducing the amount of possible waste.

If you want to read more about the topic, here's a Sustainability Guide For Software Companies.

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