POSITIVE IMPACT

Green it: ENGIE commits to zero-carbon digital technologies

By ENGIE - 13 January 2020 - 14:41

With #BlackIsTheNewGreen, we are paving the way towards a more responsible use of digital technologies so as to reduce our digital carbon footprint and fully embrace a Green IT approach.

 

The amount of electricity consumed by all digital infrastructure and by its various uses currently accounts for nearly 10% of global consumption [1]. That's equivalent to five times more natural resources than all of the cars in France. The quantities of data stored on servers and at data centres continue to grow. But everybody can do their bit to tackle this. They can unplug chargers that are not in use, unsubscribe from newsletters that they never read or send fewer emails – even just doing that reduces the amount of power consumed. The issue is of crucial importance – since more than 4 billion people spend nearly 5 hours on the Internet every day.

 

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1. Digital technologies: the great waste of energy. CNRS, the journal

2. Futura sciences, What is the carbon footprint of an email?

3. Cédric Villani’s Parliamentary report, AI for Humanity

4. Google tests / Presse-citron.net
 

Now that most people know how to behave in a more environmentally responsible way and are incorporating appropriate initiatives into their everyday lives, they are also increasingly aware of the need to use digital technologies in a more responsible way. Green IT is becoming vital. Driven by its aim of becoming the leader in the zero-carbon transition, ENGIE wants to both reduce the amount of energy that it consumes through its use of digital technologies and raise people's awareness of the need to reduce their digital carbon footprint.

 

#BlackIsTheNewGreen: ENGIE’s programme to green our online behaviour
 

For several years now, we have been striving to review our behaviour and our packages in pursuit of zero-carbon digital technologies (cf. lower). Our communications initiatives should also demonstrate how committed we are to the zero-carbon transition. This is the idea behind the #BlackIsTheNewGreen campaign.

#BlackIsTheNewGreen is the embodiment of a new movement – collective thinking that is taking the first steps towards an energy transition for digital technologies. The aim is to encourage companies, partners and employees to get into the right habits in order to take action. Energy revolution and digital revolution that are inextricably intertwined: the digital revolution needs the solutions provided by the energy revolution for it to be ecologically sustainable in the long term. This is integral to harmonious progress – the shared aim of everyone at ENGIE.
 

“Digital technologies play an essential role in our everyday lives and have a growing impact. Thanks to its #BlackIsTheNewGreen awareness-raising programme, ENGIE is bringing its corporate communications initiatives in line with its aim of becoming the leader in the zero-carbon transition”, emphasises Ana Busto, Executive Vice President in charge of Brand and Communications.
 

Responsible digital communications means:
 

Zero-carbon digital technologies – it is possible!
 

For several years now, we have been implementing a number of initiatives at ENGIE designed to reduce the amount of power consumed by our digital technologies.
 

An employee receives an average of 120 emails per day. At ENGIE, we have introduced a good practice guide for limiting excessive emails. With the help of Yammer, our corporate social network, we have been able to reduce the use of email, while encouraging more collaborative ways of working together.
 

We are also working on extending the service lives of our equipment. The results have been spectacular. We have succeeded in reducing the amount of energy consumed and greenhouse gas emissions generated by using digital tools by nearly 30%.
 

Responsible procurement, recycling, eco-design, specific green IT-focused governance, raising employees' awareness… every day, we strive to save energy online.

Green IT and Data centres: our high-performance solutions
 

Through our innovations, we would like to have a high environmental impact and bring the whole value chain with us. At our clients' premises, we are working on improving the energy performance of their Data centres – which account for nearly 5% of world electricity consumption, a percentage which continues to grow year-on-year.
 

For example, in the Netherlands, ENGIE has designed and created a particularly innovative data centre for Interxion, one of Europe's largest suppliers of colocation data centre services. In addition to supplying completely renewable energy, ENGIE has developed ATES, a remarkable cooling system (cooling by means of groundwater table transfer).

Merlin, Capgemini’s new data centre in Swindon, in the UK, was designed with ENGIE's help. Merlin is one of the world's most virtuous data centres in terms of its environmental performance and its eco-efficiency. It saves 3950 tonnes of CO2 per year with its current capacity compared with one based on a traditional design. If all UK data centres were as efficient, total CO2 emissions saved would be equivalent to all of the emissions generated by the UK transport sector. Furthermore, more than 90% of the components making up Merlin can be reused and recycled.
 

And we enter into long-term contracts with our major clients so as to directly incorporate a renewable production capacity (solar power, wind power and hydropower) with their data centres. Our leading clients in this area include a number of major global IT companies.

 

What is “dark mode”?
 

Pixels that emit less light when "dark mode" is selected consume significantly less energy than in normal mode. So even at maximum brightness, energy consumption is dramatically lower. White is the most energy-guzzling colour, closely followed by blue.

By way of an example, watching a video in dark mode on YouTube – even at maximum brightness – will save around 60% energy.

 

What is an eco-design website ?
 

Eco-designing a website involves striking the best compromise between performance and reduced environmental impact.
 

Indeed, a website uses resources: the server consumes electricity, it has to be displayed via a browser, equipment and devices need to be manufactured, etc. According to a study conducted by Web Energy Archive and supported by the ADEME (France's environment and energy agency), the 100 most popular sites in France consume the equivalent of 3077 households per year – that's 8.3 Gwh.
 

Guidelines for eco-designing a website:
 

  • Prefer hosting servers powered by green electricity.
  • In the absence of 100% green solutions, use carbon-compensated energy thanks topartners.
  • Some recent technologies such as "lazy load" make it possible to optimize the energy consumption of servers by displaying only the necessary information on the screen.
  • Consider intelligent content management: media compression, regular archiving...
  • Use the battery-saving "Dark mode" on the latest screens.
  • Efficient and frugal design, avoid animations and other video loops that don't add anything to the user experience and user experience.
     

Results:

  • reduction in the amount of energy used by a website.
  • reduction in server requests,
  • content displayed more quickly,
  • less data downloaded,
  • long-lasting site that is easy to change,
  • cuts down on devices suffering wear

 

Microsoft – a digital giant supplied by ENGIE
 

ENGIE also wants to encourage the zero-carbon transition for digital technologies by providing its biggest clients with green electricity. In September 2019, for example, Microsoft and ENGIE announced the signing of a contract to purchase 230 MW of green electricity generated by sun and wind power from ENGIE in Texas, bringing Microsoft's total renewable energy capacity up to more than 1900 MW. This contract also provides for the implementation of Darwin – the digital data management platform developed by ENGIE using the smart cloud computing service Microsoft Azure. This will optimise the performance of ENGIE's wind farms, solar farms and hybrid farms (wind + solar) throughout the world.