"Please before you print this email consider the impact that it will have in the environment"
global temperatures between 1850-2018
what happens when we go to google.com?
from Designing for Sustainability by Tim Frick
Demo: Let's trace the route between my laptop to instagram.com
timo arnall's Internet Machine Trailer
(unfortunately, this slide framework doesn't allow HTML embeds)
Producing accurate measurements of how much power is consumed in a specific data transfer is very very hard as there are many factors and boundary conditions to consider.
There is not actual consensus on how many units of power (kWh) are used for each unit of data (Gb), estimates range from as high as 5kWh/Gb to as low as 0.027kWh/Gb.
For the sake of our class today, we are going to take a conservative estimate of 0.6kWh per Gigabyte (Gb).
from Aslan et al., “Electricity Intensity of Internet Data Transmission.”
Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple all invest heavily in building their own power infrastructure. It's cheaper for them to build their own power centrals than to pay electricity bills.
Google and Apple are 100% renewable energy, but Amazon isn't (yet).
Think for example that shaving off about 10Kb on Youtube's logo, given that youtube is visited about 60M times a day could save aproximately 572,2Gb of data traffic which is aproximately 2861kWh in one day, which is the amount of combined power you use in about 6 months of your life.
source: Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index
I will need one for the rest of this lesson.
These are conservative figures based on various reasonable estimates found in research sources (see class notes for references).
This is the Wikipedia logo, it's 45700 bytes on disk. (aprox. 45Kb)
According to the wikimedia stats for the Dutch wikipedia, the website gets 205M pageviews a month.
Let's calculate how much it takes to download that logo every time: 8934,49 Gb that's 8.8 TERABYTES, that's about 1517 kgCO2e, you could fly London to Amsterdam, aproximately 35 times on the same carbon budget.
43Kb, non-lossy compression
19.7Kb - with lossy compression
Let's look at the impact of this simple one-click optimization.
By using lossy compression on the logo with ImageOptim, we have saved the planet 20 one-way flights London to Amsterdam per month.
Not bad, it's way above average. Still plenty of room for improvement.
About 88% of all web traffic is streaming video, your Herculean efforts to shave off 25Kb of the Wikipedia logo are puny in comparison to the expenditure of watching a Youtube video or binge on Stranger Things on Netflix.
Unlike bitmaps in website, video streams are never cached by your browser, they are downloaded every time.
see: This Video Has Consumed 1839247.5 AA Batteries!
"You would have to burn 62 copies of “Pride and Prejudice” to watch the film based on the book on Netflix — once. "
calculation by Daniel Gross from Catalogtree
The original Gangnam Style video by Psy has racked up 3,498,270,983 view as per Jan 2020. The video is 4:12 minutes or 252 seconds. The British Computer Society (BCS) estimate is about 312 GWh and the video is still online and continues to accumulate views. That figure is what it takes to power about 68000 homes in the UK for a whole year.
"The starting point for the calculation is the revelation by Google in 2011 (who own YouTube) that streaming 1 minute of video consumes 0.0002 kWh of energy." 
"YouTube's annual carbon footprint is about 10Mt CO2e (Million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent), about the output of a city the size of Glasgow" 
"With current network technologies, if you send less data along it, in most cases it doesn’t reduce the energy use. It's like an airplane: if you don’t fly, the plane flies anyway, and so ‘not flying’ only reduces emissions if it leads to less airplanes flying in the long term. However, newer technologies, particularly in the mobile network, will mean that reduced data leads to reduced energy consumption more directly." 
The field of Sustainable Interaction Design is still in it's infancy, there's still much where curious and motivated talent can bring new light.
Take on projects personal or associated with bold clients that give you room to experiment and push the envelope on low-carbon footprint digital services, the field is evolving and there are many economic incentives to move in this direction too.
Include sustainability in digital design as part of your pitches (even when the client doesn't call for it explicitly)
Include an energy budget in all your proposals
Look at collectives that are looking for designers that want to engage with this issue, for example: Tech Impact Makers
all can have a severe impact in your CO2 footprint
understand your third-party dependencies with: requestmap
In your process and budgetting of resources, use measuring tools to assess the impact of your design decisions:
Understand where your product's electricity comes from
Questionnaire to help develop roadmaps for sustainable design.
(go to class notes "Case Studies")
Work with your group (same as client project) and pick one of these tasks to work on:
How can we make sense of the energy budget in each of these contexts?