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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been become a hot topic around the globe and one aspect of taking that responsibility is to consider the environment. IDC predicts that already next year 2023, 60% of organizations worldwide will be implementing sustainability related considerations into their business life cycle. As IT is a large part of any operation today, Sustainable IT is a focus area for many organizations.

Sustainable IT, or Green IT, essentially comes down to decreasing the carbon footprint of the data your organization stores. A simple way of looking at it is asking how much CO2 will storing 1TB of data for one year generate. Unfortunately answering that question is not as easy as it sounds since it depends on many factors:

  • Where is your data stored? If you have your own data center, how power hungry is the cooling? You probably store some of your data in the cloud and then the question becomes about how sustainable your cloud provider is.
  • What type of storage is being used? SSD disks require less power than traditional spinning drives, i.e the Watt per disk or Watt per Terabyte (TB) is lower.
  • How is your data backed-up or replicated? Any level of redundancy will likely at least double the power consumption and therefore the carbon footprint.

Those are all factors your organization can effect at least to some extent, the next question you have to ask in order to answer what looked like a simple question, how much CO2 will storing 1TB of data for one year generate, isn’t.

  • How carbon intense is the electricity grid where your company stores its data? Some countries have come far in making sure their electricity production is based on renewable sources with low carbon emission, other have not yet shifted their energy production off sources like coal that emit a very high level of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

As hard as it is to answer the question completely accurate you can get an indication based on available sources. Here are a couple of examples:

  • In Sweden the CO2-emission for a TB of data/year is between 20 kWh x 55g = 1,1 kg and 100 kWh x 55g = 5,5 kg
  • In Germany the CO2-emission for a TB of data/year is between 20 kWh x 400g = 8 kg and 100 kWh x 400g = 40 kg

Regardless of how much time you want to spend on calculating the numbers, one thing is clear, reducing the amount of data you store will significantly contribute to the reduction of environmental impact. And this is where Northern can help…

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