Cloud computing is quickly becoming a must have for any modern non-profit offering a whole host of benefits to make working easier and faster.
However, as global leaders gathered in Egypt for COP27 only just last month, looking to pave the way forward to tackle climate change, we cannot ignore the impact that modern technologies have on the environment. So, what are the environmental impacts of moving to a cloud-based system?
Enable remote working
A lot has changed since remote working was thrust into our lives back in 2020, and cloud technologies have been a key tool to enable us to work from anywhere (including our kitchen tables!). Cloud based technologies have allowed us to collaborate and communicate from wherever we are with ease.
Being able to work from anywhere means we do not have to travel into the office so frequently. As widely reported, not travelling into the office can have a great positive impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. As transportation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, this benefit cannot be underestimated.
Dematerialisation refers to the replacement of physical products with virtual equivalents – which is exactly what cloud-based technologies do!
By reducing the number of physical products needed, including machines and hardware, cloud computing allows for reduction in the amount of e-waste from these products. It also creates the opportunity for organisations to go paperless. For example, technologies such as DocuSign remove the need to print documents before you sign them. This reduces the negative environmental impact that these everyday work activities can have
Reducing energy use
One of the keyways to reduce our impact on the environment, is through reducing the amount of energy we use. Operating an onsite data centre requires a constant supply of energy to both power and cool the server infrastructure. In addition, manufacturing and transporting the individual technology only adds to the amount of energy needed.
However, when using a shared data centre and cloud-based applications we can significantly reduce the amount of energy we consume. According to Microsoft Corporation and WSP Global Inc., cloud computing causes 98% lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than on-premise data centres.
Use of renewable energy sources
Although cloud technology can reduce the amount of GHG emitted for its operation, it still does need to be powered by some form of energy.
Renewable energy sources are the obvious way forward for this aspect and encouragingly many cloud data centres are now beginning to power their operations using renewable sources. Whether this is wind, solar, geothermal or hydropower, this again significantly reduces the amount of GHG emitted from cloud technologies.
It can sometimes be overwhelming to really think about how we can help in tackling the huge global climate change issues, but we are able to genuinely contribute in lots of ways, including the technology we use. As non-profit organisations continue to adopt cloud-based technologies for their operational benefits, it’s important not to forget the environmental benefits they can bring too and to remember one action can create many ripples.