Smart tech could cause surge in energy use, inquiry warns

Consumers must better understand their energy footprint from being online

CIBSE Journal March 2018 news Digital smart tech

Growing dependence on connected devices and digital technologies could lead to an unsustainable rise in energy consumption, a cross-party parliamentary inquiry has said.

A group of MPs, drawing on research from think tank Policy Connect, wants the government to ensure energy efficiency keeps pace with the speed of digital growth and is embedded in the design of internet-enabled systems. Its report, Is staying online costing the earth?, calls on the government to help the digital economy to grow further through energy-saving technology innovation.

Policy Connect said its research had identified a ‘knowledge gap… for managing digital energy usage and taking advantage of new technology to cut carbon footprints’.

It added that there was a lack of technical expertise on digital trends and a shortage of data collection, monitoring and analysis. The think tank urged the government to help consumers understand their energy footprint from being online through initiatives such as better energy labelling systems.

The researchers claim ICT solutions have the potential to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 15.3% by 2030. They want the public sector – with its influential spending power – to lead by example in taking forward an ‘energy efficiency by design’ approach to delivering digital services.