New procurement tool to be launched at Google’s Earth Day event creates a level playing field for carbon footprint analysis
Not many people or organisations manage a world first. Justin Sutton-Parker of Px3 managed one when he proved it was possible to meaningfully quantify the energy used by a computing device “in real life”. The calculations were based on his PhD research with Warwick University and Warwick Business School which included lab-testing and calibrating a wide range of devices, operating systems and form factors.
That published research has now been used by Px3 in calculating the Scope 2 (energy used in operation) carbon footprint of over one million PCs and laptops across 164 different countries for organisations ranging from huge central government departments and multi-national companies to universities and charities.
So much for Scope 2, but what about Scope 3 (embodied emissions from manufacture, distribution, packaging and disposal)? Calculating and comparing this additional class of emissions has long been a troublesome issue as manufacturers can use different methods and metrics to calculate their footprint and make very different assumptions about how (and for how many years) the device will be used.
This hasn’t been much of an issue for most organisations as statutory reporting has not been extended to Scope 3 emissions, but there is an increasing realisation that if we are going to take the sustainability issue seriously, Scope 3 has to be included in the action plan.
So not satisfied with having created the rules for calculating Scope 2 emissions for IT, Justin commenced an investigation into resolving the IT issues around Scope 3.
The result, to be launched during the keynote session of Google’s Earth Day event on the 26th April 2022, is a tool that allows decision makes to compare the total carbon footprint of end user computing devices from a wide-range of the market-leading manufacturers.
Importantly, the tool is 100% independent and uses only the published data from the manufacturers themselves. The crucial difference (and therefore Px3’s “second world first”), is that the data is processed using the algorithms designed by Justin to match an individual profile set by the viewer. As an example, if the organisation plans to use the device for five years and mostly operates out of the Nordics, these factors can be applied and the data adjusts accordingly.
Equally, if the organisation requires a particular EPEAT rating, form factor or screen size, these can be applied as filters to ensure that the devices shown are fit for purpose.
Ultimately, the tool is designed to help IT procurement teams create a short-list of devices that meet their selection criteria with a focus on selecting the ones which have the lowest total carbon footprint.
Px3 has already demonstrated the benefits of including Scope 3 analysis in its consulting work, with excellent feedback from customers, including Kari Anna Fiskvik, Vice President Technology at Nordic Choice Hotels who commented “In order to identify the company’s actual emissions, you need to dig in to the details of your scope 3 contributions, and IT-equipment and electronics are a surprisingly large part of those. The report from Px3 has really helped us get a more detailed understanding of that data and put it into context. “
Perhaps most importantly, Px3 has decided to make access to the tool free of charge for procurement teams in the public and not for profit sectors.
Commenting on the decision, CIO Ewen Anderson said “We are on a mission to remove emissions equivalent to 100,000 cars per annum from the atmosphere by 2050. The best way to achieve that is to get Justin’s research and this tool into as many organisations as possible, starting with the public sector. This tool creates a level playing field for the first time and I can’t wait to see it in use.”
The first group of testers are already signed up and between them represent nearly half a million IT users across central and local government.
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