12 May 2022

In summary

The growing demand for digital services has created a new challenge for the environment. Sending emails, texts, browsing the internet, uploading videos and more all come with a cost – a few grams of carbon dioxide are emitted due to the energy needed to run your devices and power the wireless networks you access.

With over 4 billion people across the world using the internet, it is estimated that 3 per cent of world electricity is consumed by data centres – accounting for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire aviation industry.

Professor Rabih Bashroush, an expert in digital infrastructure at the University of East London (UEL) and global head of IT at the Uptime Institute, has led on impactful research outlining how these data centres can be more energy efficient and mitigate the ecological costs of the cyber-revolution.


    What did we explore and how?

    Professor Bashroush's work specialises in improving the energy efficiency of data centres, encourages tech organisations to reduce their digital footprints and raises awareness on how our online activity effects the environment.

    This has included analysing projects from eBay and other industry leaders to identify new KPIs which measure and calculate appropriate energy efficiency as a significant area for innovation.

    Part of his research tackled idle power consumption, where servers consume significant amount of electricity while doing no productive work. Working with Microsoft, Professor Bashroush developed a new modelling technique to approximate the total number of servers needed to run a digital service at a mere 30 per cent overprovisioning level, down from industry average of 300 per cent overprovisioning.

    Working with the Pan-European Data Centre Academy (PEDCA) and the European Retrievable Carrier (EURECA), he created a new mathematical model to help optimise hardware refresh cycles which improved performance and compute capacity.

    What is the impact of this research?

    Professor Bashroush has helped educate the public and led on important conversations around how our digital activity impacts the environment.

    His research has shaped and created polices, research programmes on the expert committees that addressed Green ICT Research and Innovation agenda for the next EU Framework Programme of funding and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change work, driving UK data centre sustainability policy. 

    He has contributed analysis of the largest dataset ever collected on data centres in Europe, covering over 337 data centres, to advise EU legislation for Servers and Online Storage Devices and served on expert working groups.

    The work with EURECA has led to primary energy savings of over 131 GWh/year in data centres across Europe, equated to saving over 27 thousand tons of CO2 emissions.

    He has received extensive media coverage for his work – including a project which showed a single Instagram post by Cristiano Ronaldo uses the same amount of energy of 10 UK households.

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