Greening tech co-ops - looking for ideas and shared practice

At our AGM this week, we had a look at the environmental impact of Open Data Services Co-op (a team of 11, distributed across the UK in home-working and co-working settings, working on domestic and international projects).

Over the last year we’ve tried to monitor some aspects of environmental impact, tracking flights and estimating carbon costs of our workplace. A lot of our travel though is train travel in UK and Europe, and we’ve not found a good way to track this without admin overheads. We’re also aware a lot of the impact from our work might also come from clients travelling to see us, rather than the other way around.

We made a carbon offset payment based on calculations from SITE, and put the same amount again to a local community environment project, as we wanted to (a) make the total amount more tangible for thinking about reducing our carbon impact; (b) we were not sure of the effectiveness of carbon offset (though we couldn’t find any up-to-date solid advice on this, only lots of discussions mostly from a few years back).

We think there is more we could or should be doing to track and reduce our environmental impact, but we’re not sure of the way forward - and most environmental consultancy-type advice services we’ve seen look like they are setup for more traditional business set-ups (office based / capital intensive manufacturing etc.).

So - co-tech hivemind:

  • Are you doing anything to track / reduce / address environmental impacts of your work?
  • In particular - any good ways of tracking carbon impacts from rail etc. without big admin overhead?
  • Any tips for trying to address these issues in distributed tech co-op context?
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Webarchitects Co-operative powers the servers it owns in Sheffield via Good Energy which means that the money for the power, goes to renewables (though most the time, due to the nature of the grid, the actual electrons will be from burning fossil fuels). We have just moved office and are about to also have the new office power supply switched to Good Energy. We also have some virtual server in Iceland where the whole electricity grid is powered by renewables (hydro and geothermal).

We don’t travel much and when we do some of us don’t travel by air, but some do.

Our rules have a section on Sustainable development and have provision for annual social accounts but I’m sorry to say that we haven’t had the resources to actually produce any social accounts — we have been too busy keeping our heads above water.

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hi …at greengage, we are trying to raise awareness of environmental impact of IT, across the lifecycle, from procurement through operations to disposals. But mostly around energy use of IT operations.

There is a brilliant greenpeace report here which compares fossil fuel use of cloud hosting and other services. AWS is the worst. Greenpeace ran a campaign, unfriend coal which has put suppliers under pressure to use clean energy (facebook, google, Microsoft acted) but others have resisted (AWS, Oracle …).

So … review your hosting providers, review your website hosting (we use Kualo which is 100% renewable energy), consider using refurbished kit. Look at the energy use of the products you develop. Greenspector have just released a mobile app which measures the energy use of your website. Ensure disposals go to a company which refurbs or reuses components …

Re: rail travel, in this region GWR you are shown the CO2 emissions when you book on line

The only sustainable phone which does not use conflict minerals etc is the fairphone from they offer £250 credit for new co-op customers …

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Got a link for the £250 credit offer from the phone co-op? (I’m already a customer/member, and keen to promote them to others).

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hi Graham, here it is (for co-ops, charities and social enterprises)