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Learn How to Map the Carbon Footprint of Your Digital Archive

2h workshop for 60 in-person

Published onMay 22, 2024
Learn How to Map the Carbon Footprint of Your Digital Archive

In this workshop we will enable participants to plan a project to estimate the carbon footprint of their digital archive. We will share how the CLOCKSS archive approached this, including how and when we engaged key stakeholders along the way, and explore ways that this could be generalised to be more broadly applicable throughout the international digital preservation community.

CLOCKSS began by setting out to find friends who could help us find a path. We were so lucky to find colleagues involved in the DIMPACT Project. The DIMPACT community is focused on calculating and ultimately reducing the carbon footprint of digital com- munication and media companies and includes publishers such as Cambridge University Press, Elsevier, Institute of Physics Publishing, Oxford University Press, and Taylor & Francis.

We began by developing a component/functional map of our digital archive, and documenting:

  • The component parts of the system

  • At a high level, how these components work

  • How and where the service is used

Our aim was to unpack the ‘preservation’ black box that was part of the broader DIMPACT project diagram for all of digital publishing.

The next steps were to:

  • Identify the significant energy-using components used to provide, maintain and deliver the preservation service and where each component was geographically located. For example, CLOCKSS securely preserves content in 11 different universities located in 7 countries.

  • Identify how the preservation service is used, e.g. by how many users, the quantity or duration of service used per user, what devices the service is consumed on, what proportions of users use what kinds of devices, where the service is used (e.g. university, office, or home), etc.

For each system component we then gathered relevant data (e.g. electricity source carbon intensities and usage and volumes of data transferred).

Finally, the carbon footprint will be estimated and we will be armed with the information to understand where and how we can make changes to reduce this.

Now it is time to find friends, including those in the Digital Preservation Coalition, so that we can continue the journey together!

Intended audience

No prior experience of either carbon footprint or digital preservation is needed, and we welcome anyone who is interested in understanding the environmental impact of digital archives.

Come prepared

This will be a hands-on workshop. We will have two outputs: the first will be a generalized systems diagram, based on the CLOCKSS example, that can be widely used by digital archives for carbon footprinting projects; the second will be a tailored project plan for each participant to take away so they can get started with their own carbon footprinting project.

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