The Digital Sustainability Alliance has released a paper today (12 December) promoting sustainable computing using the negabyte method. 

Negabytes refers to the action of not adding additional bytes of storage before existing memory space is used. 

The paper’s author Mark Bernstein explained that the inspiration behind his word and idea lies in a previous article by sustainability non-profit RMI co-founder Amory Lovins published in 1985. 

Lovins argued that counting the number of energy watts saved was more important for the environment than building more new power plants. 

Alongside a growth in tech investment and demand, particularly in AI, Bernstein stated that companies are rushing to build data centres to meet this growth at the expense of the environment. Bernstein’s paper argues that many of these data centres are not being used efficiently. 

Considering negabytes can save companies the upfront costs of building large data centres as well as reduce the impact of modern computing on the environment. 

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Currently it is estimated that data centres, cryptocurrency and cloud computing account for 3% of the world’s energy consumption according to data from the International Energy Agency.  

“Stewardship in [sustainable computing] is vital and the Digital Sustainability Alliance was launched to raise awareness of these issues,” Bernstein commented. 

One of Digital Sustainability Alliance’s cofounders Ben Golub stated that the greenest, most eco data centres are the ones do not need to be built or later expanded. 

Golub is also the CEO of Storj Labs, a US based cloud storage provider. 

“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,” Golub stated, “Adopting the technologies promoted by the DSA does not require economic or behavioural sacrifices.” 

In a 2023 Q4 GlobalData survey only 4% of respondents stated that ESG would affect their business imminently within the next year.