Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution


Ebay Energy/Carbon Dashboard for “Digital Service Efficiency”



Splits usage into infrastructure and business (former is bigger), provides summary metrics in number of transactions (related to buy or sell) per kWh (more is better), and includes carbon emissions per user, server, and MW. Not realtime numbers, though quarterly updates planned.

View the dashboard here and the explanation here.

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PwC: “Business as usual is not an option”

Consultancies periodically weigh in on macro issues that affect business organizations, such as climate change.

While typically not peer reviewed, these analyses can offer interesting insights, food for thought, and suggest areas for academic research.

PwC recently published a report describing their view of what’s needed in order to stabilize CO2 concentrations and provide a 50% probability of limiting warming to 2 deg C: “Too late for two degrees? Low carbon economy index 2012“. The graph above encapsulates the analysis.

While the study does not address the question of how we might make these reductions (see here for an example), it does reinforce a stark message to business and government leaders: business as usual is not an option (consistent with climate science analysis).

Happy thanksgiving.

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Sustainability Performance: Wide Variation Within Industries

A 2011 report by Fujitsu demonstrates wide variation in environmental sustainability performance with respect to IT practices (using their own performance metric “ITSx”).

My own research (currently under review) using 2008 data shows wide variation in corporate carbon performance (Revenue / Emissions) within industry (denominator is Scope 1 + Scope 2). The following box plots illustrate the range of each distribution.

Note also that variation depends on the industry. For example, Consumer Staples and Industrials have lower ranges relative to other low emitting industries (note y-axis scale difference across the two panels). Bottom line? Whether from the perspective of IT sustainability or overall sustainability performance, data illustrate wide variation within industries. Why might this be the case? That’s the subject of a future post.