With the UK committed to achieving net zero by 2050, organisations in all sectors are currently on a journey to try and achieve a more sustainable digital infrastructure, reduce carbon footprint across all operations, and become more energy efficient. An important deadline for the country is approaching fast, as by 2030, the UK should achieve its target of reducing carbon emissions by at least 45%.

The new decade will be here before we know it; therefore we took a closer look at the progress organisations have made so far to help meet the country’s targets and growing customer demands for economic, social and environmental (ESG) practices. We have recently surveyed 250 IT decision-makers to learn their plans for decarbonising IT infrastructure and identify challenges they’re likely to face in the coming years on their path to sustainability. Here’s what we have found.

Challenges in building sustainable IT infrastructure

It’s certainly not easy for companies to reduce their environmental impact and fully realise their net zero roadmap. Our research has shown that businesses are facing a whole array of challenges when it comes to achieving net-zero goals, including:

  • 60% cite that the required investment to achieve net-zero is too high
  • 50% lack the necessary technological infrastructure
  • 30% face resistance from stakeholders or decision-makers in adopting sustainable practices
  • 30% say there’s a lack of awareness and engagement from employees

Considering the abovementioned barriers, it’s perhaps unsurprising that only 19% of businesses have already met their net-zero goal. 44% are in the position where they’re not yet net-zero but plan to reach this milestone in the future. Some organisations are working towards a much closer target of 2025 to realise the financial and operational benefits of more energy efficient IT infrastructures sooner.

Interestingly, 12% of our surveyed companies have confirmed they’re not planning on taking any action to negate greenhouse gas emissions and 30% are yet to develop a comprehensive roadmap to sustainable digital infrastructure. The challenges have a lot to play here, as sky-high inflation and record-breaking energy prices are putting a financial strain on many businesses who cannot afford to invest in the necessary technology to help them create more sustainable IT infrastructure. Every organisation should however try and contribute to building a more sustainable digital economy, despite the highlighted challenges as the world is facing irreversible climate change.


The principles of sustainable digital infrastructure

Achieving sustainable digital infrastructure won’t happen overnight, but it’s important to acknowledge the main ways and initiatives to get businesses one step closer to net-zero. These are:

1) Switching to renewable energy

With digital products and services requiring electricity 100% of the time, one of the most important things organisations can do is to stop relying on fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy. Not only will switching to renewable energy help reduce energy bills, but it will also lead to a significant reduction of company’s carbon footprint and help strengthen customer relationships and brand differentiation. Many businesses plan to shift towards more sustainable cloud and colocation deployments, which gives them an opportunity to partner with a data centre provider that uses 100% clean and renewable energy from certified sources.

2) Improving energy efficiency

Businesses should be more proactive when it comes to reducing energy consumption within their digital infrastructure. Whether it’s deploying energy-efficient hardware, environmental sensors, or power management solutions, there are plenty of tools out there that can help. Leading data centres like Telehouse have deployed modern energy efficiency technologies that help prioritise energy reduction across cooling systems, creating a more energy efficient infrastructure for their customers.

3) Reporting on greenhouse gas emissions

It’s important businesses gain a complete and accurate understanding of how much greenhouse gas emissions they’re producing. To help with the assessment and identifying inefficiencies, organisations should report on both mandatory Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, as well as voluntary Scope 3 emissions across the supply chain, as per the leading GHG Protocol. Our research shows that only a third of organisations are focusing on Scope 3, whilst 16% aren’t currently addressing emissions in any of the scopes. Reporting on emissions is crucial to mitigate them and to become more environmentally friendly.

4) Educating stakeholders

As mentioned in the previous blog section, businesses are struggling to adopt more sustainable practices due to a lack of awareness and engagement from employees and stakeholders. A great place to start would be to educate employees on the value of more sustainable operations during regular meetings or ‘lunch and learn’ sessions, alongside providing more formal, online training on what individual people can do to save the environment in the short and long term. If it’s an engineer, for example, it’d be training on how to use resources more effectively, eliminate excess waste, or consider alternatives to traditionally unsustainable materials.


How to build a sustainable digital infrastructure by 2030

As businesses continue on their path towards more sustainable digital infrastructure, they face multiple challenges in the shape of legacy systems and resistance from stakeholders. But sustainability is increasing in importance and becoming a major factor in decision making. The looming climate crisis cannot be ignored and every organisation can and should build more sustainable IT infrastructure and implement ESG practices to remain competitive.

If you’d like to find out more about the challenges organisations face in building a sustainable digital infrastructure and the plans they have to move towards a greener tomorrow, download our complimentary research report.

Download our research report