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How Does Using Digital Technology Affect Your Carbon Footprint?

20 October, 2015

Our increased use of digital technology, powered by the use of data centres, is causing a spike in greenhouse emissions. It’s inevitable that using our laptops, tablets and smartphones more often means data centres are accountable for 

CO2 In The World

more energy usage. In fact, data centres are now responsible for 2% of global greenhouse emissions – which is almost the same as air travel.

Anything we do online goes through a data centre and uses energy. Simply reading a newspaper online, watching an episode of your favourite Netflix TV series or buying something off Amazon is polluting the atmosphere. But, with the extensive growth of data usage, such as music streaming services and cloud computing and storage functions, it is proving difficult to halt the big data carbon footprint.


Certain internet tycoons have took the time to calculate the average carbon footprint for their users. For example, each Google search is said to generate 0.2g of CO2, while watching a YouTube video of cats uses 1g for every 10 minutes of viewing time. Facebook’s average user has an annual carbon footprint of 269g of CO2 – roughly equivalent to a cup of coffee.


Individually, it doesn’t seem like our constant need for being connected to the internet 24/7 is having a significant impact. However, if you think about the amount of people across the world using Google and Facebook, the figure of CO2 being produced becomes much more worrying.


In the fight against climate change, it’s essential that companies with data centres are utilising the best energy saving equipment and constantly looking for ways to drive efficiency forwards. Even if data centres are becoming more and more efficient, the growth in demand means they aren’t actually succeeding in lowering emissions.


The data centre sector needs to do more to cut back its annual footprint, as it almost reaches the same share of emissions as the aviation industry. ITE Projects recommends the following to improve data centre efficiency:


  • The correct positioning of air handling units and floor grilles
  • The correct positioning of chillers, dry coolers and condensers to ensure heat is removed efficiently
  • Keep up to date with the latest technology, such as adiabatic cooling, which can improve efficiency and reduce running costs.


All businesses have a responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint – have you got any tips for running an environmentally friendly data centre and lowering CO2 emissions? Let us know.


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