All Fact No Fiction: All About Sustainability
Professor Begum Tokay, University of Nottingham

Sustainability goals: today and tomorrow

It's been nine years since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations (UN). Their recent report (2023) emphasised that urgent action is needed to rescue the SDGs and deliver meaningful progress for people and the planet by 2030. Digital sustainability has become an important aspect of net zero target as recently electricity consumption of data centres reached 200-250 TWh in 2020, which is more than domestic electricity usage of many countries (and approximating countries such as UK (286 TWh). In addition, vast amount of water use has brought up the ethical discussions while water scarcity has been affecting world population. Therefore, using green energy resources is not enough anymore to be sustainable.


Should we put our data centres somewhere cold?
Dr. Emma Barnes, Head of Research and Faculty IT and Richard Fuller, Assistant Director of IT Services, University of York

York's HPC adventures in Sweden: nine months on

At the UCISA DIG23 conference, the University of York generated a lot of interest in an initiative to move their HPC computing to a datacentre in Sweden's colder climate. This is an opportunity to learn how successful the datacentre has been since it went live in October 2023.

It started with an idea and now we've done it, we’ve migrated the University's High Performance compute (HPC) provision to a better-than-net-zero data centre in the heart of Sweden.Our HPC facility is live and running user workloads. Hear about the challenges we've faced along the way, how users have found the new system and the opportunities we've taken and learn from our mistakes if you decide to do this yourself!


Designing an innovative cross-sector tool to measure and reduce supply chain emissions and meet net zero ambitions
Charlotte Wood, Sustainability Manager and Claire Davies, Sustainable Procurement Manager, NTU

How engaging with your ICT supply chains to obtain real carbon emissions data can achieve measurable digital sustainability

Nottingham Trent University strives to be one of the most environmentally responsible universities in the UK. Hear how NTU's 'thinking outside of the box' approach to a software solution allowed them to design and develop a low cost Net Zero Carbon Supplier Tool that captures accurate supply chain carbon data and engages suppliers to embed sustainability. The team behind the Tool will demonstrate how it is enabling actual carbon reductions across scopes 1, 2 and 3 for ICT. 


Education technology that’s easy to use – and easy on the planet
Kirri Watson, Head of Adult Education, UK/I, Google, and Richard Fuller, Assistant Director of IT Services, University of York

Sustainable Data Centres, AI & Device lifespans and management

At Google we have a unique opportunity to empower individuals, organisations and governments with the data and tools they need to drive positive action for our planet.

That means using our products and platforms to help people make more sustainable choices, and working together with our partners to help reduce their emissions and advance transformative technology for a carbon-free future. It also means using our deep legacy in research and the breakthroughs we’re making in AI to accelerate innovation that can tackle climate change.

Join Google and University of York to explore how these technologies are being used in practice to promote a sustainable future in Higher Education.


Everything Everywhere All at Once
John Vass-de-Zomba, IT Environmental Sustainability Manager, University of Manager

An approach to tackling the range of environmental impacts of a HE institution's IT estate and operations

The uses IT is put to can benefit or harm the environment - compare AI identification of new fossil fuel reserves to AI optimisation of wind turbine placement. But the creation, operation and disposal of IT, like most human activity, is in itself harmful to the environment as it requires materials and consumes energy. When addressing the sustainability of an HE institute's IT we are mitigating that harm. Given we cannot tackle everything all at once, what should we focus on? Is it more effective to gain an extra year out of our laptops, or to utilise one particular cloud provider over others, or to strengthen sustainability in procurement policy?

Before we attempt to prioritise the improvements we could bring about, we must decide the bases on which we will compare these apples to oranges. This is not simply a case of choosing a metric, gathering the data, then seeing which comes out on top. We must decide which environmental impacts to address, how we might measure them, and consider the availability, veracity, and meaning of data for measuring our effectiveness. We might also want to consider more indirect, qualitative outcomes and whether pragmatic compromises are needed in order to achieve real change.

This presentation lays out the approach we have taken at the University of Manchester to balance these considerations. In it, we will also dip into the lessons we have learnt along the way, and some of the discoveries we've made which have helped to inform our decisions. The hope is that by sharing these, others in a similar position may progress more rapidly and beyond, then in turn share their learning with the HE IT environmental sustainability community.


AI and the climate emergency: threat or opportunity?
Dr. Tom Davies, Small World Consulting

The Sustainability of Artificial Intelligence

With the rapid expansion of artificial intelligence (AI) over the past 2 years, hundreds of millions of people are now aware of the potential benefits AI can bring to the world. Like many other global issues, AI promises to provide solutions to the climate emergency; improving the efficiency of electricity grids, optimising low-carbon transport, and even helping to accelerate societal adaptation to climate change.

But what are the environmental impacts of AI itself? If AI continues to expand at its current pace, what might its future impacts be? And, perhaps more importantly, will the solutions offered by AI be enough to justify its environmental impacts? This talk aims to explore these questions, and provide a balanced view of the harms of AI as well as its potential use for good.


Device lifecycle, culture and sustainability
John Ireland, Director of Customer Services @ IT Services, University of Oxford

Considerations around device lifecycles and impact on IT sustainability

Findings from work to look at reducing environmental impact by extending device lifecycles at Oxford. When should you replace a desktop or laptop PC? What about the manufacture, shipping and end-of-life treatment? What are the surprises?


Sustainability Behaviour Matters
Sean Green, Director of Digital, University of East Anglia

Explore a case study undertaken at a UK University on Sustainable behaviour