The Digital Sustainability Alliance has released a policy paper titled 'From NegaWatts to NegaBytes: How lessons from energy efficiency can help reduce energy needs for computing.' The document, launched amidst global discussions on tech sustainability at COP28, explores the application of the effective NegaWatts utility model to computing to enhance efficiency in digital dimensions.
According to industry estimates, despite being utilised at less than full capacity - with usage dropping as low as 30 percent in some cases - data centres continue to need energy-intensive cooling systems, thereby burdening current electricity supplies. The Alliance's paper argues that upgrading and maximising the use of existing infrastructure will not only be significantly less expensive but will also have a more positive climate impact compared to constructing new data centres.
Mark Bernstein, the author of the paper and Co-founder of the Digital Sustainability Alliance, presents the idea of NegaBytes as an approach for directing investments. Bernstein encourages investors to concentrate on technologies and practices that decrease the requirement for new capacity and enhance the efficiency of current utilisation. Bernstein says, "As power consumption rises alongside the increasing use of technology, accelerated by artificial intelligence, it is essential that we take a moment to consider the environmental impact of computing and storing digital data. Stewardship in this area is vital and the Digital Sustainability Alliance was launched to raise awareness of these issues, working towards increased transparency, providing better information and bringing together like-minded companies and stakeholders to address the future impact of computing."
Co-Founder of the Digital Sustainability Alliance, Ben Golub, added his insights. He noted, "The greenest hardware and greenest data centres are the ones that don’t need to be built nor expanded. Utilising existing technology such as Storj, for example, organisations can better utilise the storage capacity of data centres, while simultaneously providing better overall performance and economics. Adopting the technologies promoted by the DSA does not require economic or behavioural sacrifices, nor does it require making fundamental changes to consumer behaviour or buying patterns. It is a way to do well by doing good."
The Digital Sustainability Alliance emerged from the collective efforts of three founding members striving to create a greener, faster, and more secure digital world for content distribution and storage. The Alliance encourages additional innovative firms, educators, and influencers to work alongside them in acting as stewards of the environment.