ISO Standards: essential support for a digital decarbonization strategy
Organizations are increasingly taking up the subject of digital responsibility, an essential entry point for taking action on their environmental and social impact. Beyond a commitment to a more resilient and sustainable business model, such an approach also implies a message communicated to stakeholders: that of values aligned with concrete actions. One way of doing this is through ISO standardization, which involves certification by a third-party organization. Certain ISO standards not only provide guidance and a framework, but above all challenge companies in their approach to a more sober digital world.
ISO standards, what are they?
The International Organization for Standardization, commonly known by its acronym ISO, is a private, independent body which directs international standardization work. In particular, it issues international standards with the aim of harmonizing national standards.
In the ISO context, we speak of a "voluntary" standard, meaning that it is the result of constructive collaboration between professionals and users, who have worked together to design it in a consensual manner. Any organization is free to decide whether or not to use a voluntary standard.
A voluntary standard is a frame of reference designed to provide guidelines, technical or qualitative prescriptions for products and services, reflecting the certified company's commitment in this area.
In France, Afnor (Association française de normalisation) represents ISO and supports and guides professionals in their certification. Afnor also creates its own standards, notably in relation to Responsible Digital Business, to which it is committed.
ISO environmental standards applying to digital responsibility
The 14000 standard (and all its sub-families) corresponds to environmental management: its aim is to establish a framework within which companies can undertake eco-responsible actions in line with their CSR strategy. This standard fits perfectly within the framework of Responsible Digitization, which aims (in particular) to limit the digital footprint on the environment.
ISO 14064 standard: a commitment to reduced carbon impact
The ISO 14064 standard outlines the principles, specifications and paths to be taken to improve greenhouse gas management. The use of digital technology and the manufacture of the equipment that enables it generate a significant carbon footprint, which is set to triple by 2050. As digital technology is an essential tool for business activity (particularly in the service sector), a low-carbon strategy cannot be implemented without incorporating a focus on digital responsibility and sobriety. The ISO 14064 standard makes it possible to tackle this issue through a number of best practices, starting with a GHG assessment of the company's IT assets.
In fact, this ISO standard is divided into 3 parts (which show the way forward):
- ISO 14064-1, which helps quantify and report greenhouse gas emissions and removals.
- ISO 14064-2, which applies to initiatives aimed at reducing or eliminating greenhouse gases (GHGs). This standard facilitates the assessment, monitoring and reporting of climate benefits resulting from these actions.
- ISO 14064-3, which validates and verifies GHG declarations.
ISO 14040:2006 standard: Lifecycle assessment of digital services and equipment
Essential to the implementation of a more sustainable, resource-efficient economic model, Life Cycle Assessment (or LCA) is a global, multi-criteria evaluation tool standardized internationally by ISO through standard ISO 14040:2006. Its purpose is to "compile and evaluate the inputs, outputs and potential environmental impacts of a product system over its life cycle".
This tool is used as part of a Responsible Digital approach, both for :
- Eco-design digital services by anticipating their production and use phases upstream of the project to reduce their environmental impact.
- Optimize the natural resources required to create digital equipment and guarantee its robustness to delay obsolescence (if the company
The ultimate aim is to maximize the environmental impact of the creation of new digital equipment and services by setting targets at each stage of their life cycle. The ISO 14040:2006 standard offers a methodological basis for LCA: to apply it more precisely in a digital context, the experts at Responsible Digital can help you.
ISO 14062: Integrating eco-design into digital service projects
Ecodesign meets the sobriety and circularity objectives sought by a digital decarbonization strategy:
- Reducing digital energy consumption ;
- Extending the lifespan of equipment (manufacturing, maintenance, recycling);
- The use of non-polluting renewable resources;
- The development of equipment repairability and reconditioning;
- Seeking to improve rather than renew equipment
As mentioned above, LCA is an integral part of the Responsible Digital approach, as is eco-design, which flows naturally from it.
The ISO 14062 standard (still part of the ISO family of decarbonization standards), aimed at product designers and developers, sets out concepts and proposes basic principles for taking the environment into account in the design and development of products, particularly digital products.
ESN companies have a clear interest in adopting this standard as a benchmark and obtaining its certification, in order to demonstrate to their stakeholders their commitment to eco-responsible design of digital services and products, aimed at reducing their impact throughout their lifecycle.
ISO 50001: Optimizing energy management systems for IT infrastructures
ISO 50001 is an international standard that specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and improving an energy management system. The standard aims to help organizations improve their energy performance, reduce their energy consumption and thereby reduce their carbon footprint. By implementing ISO 50001, companies can take concrete steps to promote the energy efficiency of their IT infrastructures and the use of renewable energies to power them. This standard makes it possible to tackle the environmental impact of the data centers and networks required to run digital services, which account for up to 22% of the digital industry's carbon footprint in France, according to ADEME.
Beyond the standard: third-party certification
ISO certification constitutes concrete proof that the product or service purchased meets the requirements set out in the standard or reference document, and that it is subject to regular checks. This process is carried out by an external certification body, which performs a final certification audit. During this audit, the auditor assesses the systems, services, products and business skills in relation to the chosen standard and its scope. If everything conforms to the standard, ISO certification is awarded. The company can then concretely demonstrate its investment in its environmental policy.
In France, the reference certification bodies for ISO standards related to digital decarbonization will be Bureau Veritas and Afnor Certification.