As the world pumps out billions and billions of bytes everyday, it’s generating more than the business benefits and better outcomes that most focus on. In fact, the Internet and connected devices are consuming more energy and producing more waste than ever before—and the numbers are only going up. Consider the facts from a recent Fortune article on the “dirty secret” of the Internet:

  • Today, data centers consume about two percent of electricity worldwide; that could rise to eight percent of the global total by 2030.
  • U.S. data centers consumed 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2014, the same amount that 6.4 million American homes used during the same time period. 
  • The music video for Despacito, which set a record in 2018 with five billion views on YouTube, used as much energy as 40,000 U.S. homes consume in a year to reach the milestone.

According to a recent World Economic Forum article, “Data generation is exploding, and mainly at the edge; our phones, cars, fridges, factories, medical equipment, fields, and satellites are generating unprecedented amounts of data.” The article goes on to make the case that the tsunami of data generated by the world today requires us to “rethink” how we process, manage, and secure data as we use it to improve lives, business, the environment, and society as a whole.

The good news is that CIOs and IT leaders at leading companies worldwide are starting to take notice—and take action. One way companies are doing this is by examining the environmental impact of running the data centers that support today’s cloud computing apps and the millions of devices generating data every day.

According to a recent Data Center Dynamics article, a study by Northwestern University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Koomey Analytics found that despite a massive increase in data center usage and construction over the last 10 years, related energy consumption rose just marginally with power demands increasing by only six percent from 2010 to 2018. That’s good news! At the same time, “Global data center workloads and compute instances have increased sixfold, data center Internet protocol (IP) traffic has increased by more than 10-fold, and data center storage capacity has increased by an estimated factor of 25,” according to the article.

As a result, more work needs to be done to help support the increasing flow of data worldwide, while also keeping an eye on sustainability and the environment. According to a recent Computerworld article, titled Why data centres are the new frontier in the fight against climate change, “The IT sector needs to look for alternative models to redress their monstrous carbon footprints—a larger share in total than every country besides the USA, China, and India.” This includes commitments to use 100 percent renewable energy, such as wind, hydro, or solar, in the coming years from major technology players, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook.

Have you looked at your company’s data footprint lately?

To learn more, including how you can make the use of your data centers more sustainable over the long term, read the complete Computerworld article.