Green Archiving. Archiving for a sustainable world

Nikki Smit, Geert-Jan Van Bussel


Computers create environmental problems. Their production requires electricity, raw materials, chemical materials and large amounts of water, and supplies (often toxic) waste. They poison dumping sites and pollute groundwater. In addition, the energy consumption in IT is growing exponentially, with and without the use of ‘green’ energy. Increasing environmental awareness within information science has led to discussions on sustainable development. ‘Green Computing’ has been introduced: the study and practice of environmentally sustainable computing or IT. It is necessary to pay attention to the value of the information stored. In this paper, we explored the possibilities of combining Green Computing components with two theories of archival science (Archival Retention Levels and Information Value Chain respectively) to curb unnecessary power consumption. Because in 2012 storage networks were responsible for almost 30 % of total IT energy costs, reducing the amount of stored information by the disposal of unneeded information should have a direct effect on IT energy use. Based on a theoretical analysis and qualitative interviews with an expert group, we developed a ‘Green Archiving’ model, that could be used by organizations to 1] reduce the amount of stored information, and 2] reduce IT power consumption. We used two exploratory case studies to research the viability of this model.

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