The IEN project (Impact Environnemental du Numérique – Environmental Impact of Digital Technologies) aims to offer a systemic approach to evaluate the direct and indirect impacts of digital systems (servers, hosting infrastructures, software, digital services, etc.) on the environment. This evaluation system will enable both private and public organisations to make informed investment decisions or recommend certain uses in order to adopt an approach of digital sobriety. This 36-month project brings together Airbus Protect, Teclib’, Total Energies and CentraleSupélec.


A baseline methodology to measure the environmental cost of digital services

To date, several evaluation methodologies are available but they are isolated and non-standardised. The reliability of data is relative. For example, machine manufacturers do not give precise assessments of their operating systems. Application software deployed on the Cloud also remains very opaque. In order to meet this challenge, the IEN project will establish both transparent and homogeneous calculation indicators and methods, which will be based on their life-cycle. This will make it possible to precisely quantify induced environmental savings and costs, taking into account all their components (data centre, network, terminals, etc.). In fine, the clear ambition is to offer a common framework and a tool-based methodology that can be generalised for industrials, local authorities, suppliers, etc. to help them make informed technological choices.

To this end, partners will endeavour to:

  • Define valuation rules on the environmental impacts of physical components at every stage of the lifecycle of digital systems;
  • Establish a decision-making tool, based on environmental or economic criteria, towards technological choices, data processing methods and equipment to be used;
  • Share with the scientific community a systemic diagnostics guide on environmental impacts, and even training solutions to make players aware of the environmental impact of digital systems in line with institutional references (Ademe, Arcep, etc.).

This work falls within the scope of the research topic “Circular economy and ecological transition” led by the IRT SystemX in order to foster the adoption of the circular economy based on a global systemic approach.

In order to carry out the IEN project, the IRT SystemX will draw on:

  • Research on digital twins for territories carried out within its PSE project (Paris-Saclay Energies), and focused in particular on the lifecycle of heating networks rolled out within territories.
  • The CircularIT alliance cofounded with CentraleSupélec which aims to animate the ecosystem of industrial partners around the adoption and implementation of eco-design practices for complex systems




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