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Posted on Monday December 17, 2018

Europeana's Carbon Footprint

During Europeana's hack week 2018, one of the teams set a goal to calculate the carbon footprint of our digital services.  This page shares the results of this research.

During the hack week Europeana staff is allowed to work on any topic of their choice related somehow to the organization for one week, to stimulate creativity and come up with new ideas and ways of working.

The goal of the carbon footprint project is to calculate the carbon footprint of all Europeana’s online services.The idea behind it is to start with identifying the environmental impact of Europeana as an organization and draw up recommendations on how to improve this. Europeana should not only try to “transform the world with culture”, but also be aware of any potentially negative impact of their actions and strive to mitigate those. 

Executive summary

We estimated that the carbon footprint of Europeana’s online services is around 113.700 kg of CO2e per year. This was calculated by estimating average power consumption of dedicated production, non-production and shared servers, multiplying by the amount of servers, and again multiplying by carbon footprint per kWh for the country in which the server is located. In comparison the carbon footprint of all foreign travel of Europeana employees in the last year is around 37.800 CO2e which is only ⅓ of the online services footprint. The travel footprint was calculated by entering all 178 flights, 46 (of the 61 in total) train trips and 1 car trip in an online carbon footprint calculator. We found that airplane travel is responsible for almost 98% of the foreign travel footprint.

The reason why Europeana’s online services carbon footprint is so high is that we recently changed to a new data ingestion system and both new and old systems are running. We expect that the footprint of the online services will decrease with 43% when the servers of the old system are decommissioned. A further reduction could be made by keeping a closer eye on old and unused servers or containers, by urging hosting providers to switch to electricity from renewable energy sources, and by using more virtual servers instead of physical servers.

The foreign travel footprint can be reduced by taking the train instead of an airplane when travelling to nearby destinations such as London, Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Berlin.

Read the research report or check out a presentation of the highlights below. 

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