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September 9, 2022

How adaptable are creating sustainable digital products

According to the UN, 130 countries have now set or are considering a target of net zero carbon emissions  by at least 2050. Some countries – including the UK – are aiming for this goal as early as 2030. As individuals and organisations, we all have a responsibility to understand our impact and the steps we can take to pull towards this goal. 

Understanding the impact of digital is an essential part of this. Digital products can not only be the drivers behind more sustainable processes, but with the right approach, can also help to directly reduce an organisation’s environmental impact.

When it comes to tackling climate change, it’s all about action. About putting your money where your mouth is. With that in mind, we’ve invested a lot of time not just into understanding how we can reduce the impact of our organisation and the digital products we create, but putting processes in place to help us turn this into action. Our aim is not only to reduce our own carbon footprint, but to actively help our clients tie their digital strategy to their sustainability goals. 

Infrastructure

The carbon footprint of our devices, the internet and the infrastructure that supports everything is said to account for somewhere between 2 and 4% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Understanding the environmental impact of the infrastructure of supporting and delivering digital products is the first step to making our operations more sustainable. 

We spent a lot of time researching the right hosting solution that would help us meet our sustainability objectives – and our clients’ too. 

Client websites and digital products (and soon to be our studio site) going forward are hosted with Google Cloud. Google is already carbon neutral in their operations, and has a goal to run data centres on carbon-free energy by 2030. Using Google’s platform gives us more control over utilising carbon free regions, and visibility over the impact and emissions from digital products hosted with them. Their Carbon Sense suite can also give our clients complete visibility over emissions associated with their hosting, helping them with more accurate reporting around sustainability. 

UX and performance 

A slow loading or poorly performing website can directly affect emissions. According to Website Carbon, the average website produces approximately 1.7g of CO2 for every page view. The more resources required to load the page, the more this figure multiplies. 

Every web and digital product we create is done so in line with the latest web standards – focusing on accessibility, user experience, speed and performance. For example, Google’s Core Web Vitals Standards, “quality signals” which are designed to assess a website’s performance against key metrics and identify areas for improvement. 

Improving a website against these metrics helps to cut down the time it takes for a user to find and get what they want – reducing the energy used to do so. Making sure your website is findable by a search engine helps them find a solution fast, instead of wasting time trawling through search results. Reducing loading times and HTTP requests improves user experience and ensures your website uses less energy. Using an efficient cache policy to pull in resources saves time, energy and bandwidth.  

We carefully assess and audit everything we produce to ensure performance and user experience is optimal – this includes our website and digital products as well as our clients’.

Carbon offsetting

Looking at the bigger picture – we felt that there was even more we could be doing to ensure the carbon footprint of adaptable and our clients is as minimal as possible. We were keen to explore options to help offset the emissions that will inevitably occur when people interact with our digital products. 

We recently partnered with Ecologi – who have enabled us to set up funding for tree planting and carbon reduction projects – directly offsetting the emissions created during the running of our business and the use of our products, as well as giving us and our clients visibility of our impact. 

We also undertook a self audit of our Scope 1-3 emissions using the Small99 calculator – highlighting areas for improvement in consumables, supply chain, energy usage, and transport as well as carbon offsetting, which we are also working to improve. 

 

Want to find out more about how we could help you achieve your sustainability goals through an effective digital product strategy? Get in touch to chat to us about your next project. 

 

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