14 Oct

Digital Decarbonisation need highlighted by local researchers

Dark Data

Organisations need to urgently tackle digital decarbonisation if the UK is to stand any chance of hitting its 2050 net-zero targets, warn Loughborough University researchers.

This paper by Loughborough University Professors Tom Jackson and Ian Hodgkinson highlights how recent Government policy and technological innovations focus on tackling traditional carbon emissions, without addressing digital decarbonisation. One of the big challenges with digital decarbonisation is the amount of dark data organisations create and store. Dark data refers to digital knowledge assets that are used once and then forgotten about, creating a significant and often hidden drain on energy.

Professor Jackson said:

“An example of a typical data driven business with 100 employees might generate 4590GB data a day, which equates to 10.67 tons of CO2.That’s a similar carbon footprint to flying from London Heathrow to New York 10 times in one day! Until organisations and the Government recognise and take measures to tackle digital decarbonisation, it will be impossible for the UK economy to meet the 2050 net zero target.”

Sustainability is one of the four pillars of the LLEPs Economic Growth Strategy and decarbonising businesses is a key strand to this. To help support this pledge the LLEP has provided Carbon Literacy training to all employees. The LLEP has also made 100 licences available for Zellar software to help businesses understand their environmental impact. Understanding the carbon impact of digital activity, such as large file sizes and excessive emails is a great place to start to reduce the carbon footprint of a business.

The LLEP’s Getting Building Fund reccently supported Loughborough University to build Sports Park Pavilion 4  made according to Passihaus standard for energy efficiency in a building, reducing the building’s ecological footprint. This results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling.