Co-designing Sustainable Domestic Technologies

Did you know that the 5 apps running in the background of your smart phone equal the CO2 emission of a gasoline-fueled car driving 500 km?

Danes’ domestic use of IT have led to a significant increase in energy consumption, which often remains invisible to people. Streaming, gaming, social media, online work and education rely on building large datacenters which contrary to expectations in Denmark have not been supplied with green and renewable energy. This is unsustainable digital consumption. Globally it is estimated that people’s mobile devices and internet use alone represent 3,7% of all CO2 emission (equal to the airline industry pre COVID-19). In 2025 the ICT-industry will require 20% of all electricity world-wide and CO2 emission will increase to 5,5%. With the advent of Big data, Internet of Things, and crypto coins this is only going to  get worse – unless we do something about it!

Together with the energy and fiber net provider EWII, the Social Design Unit set up a design challenge for SDU students to work on in the Fall 2021: How can we co-design sustainable digital consumptions with and for Danish families? Based on insights from their fieldwork and co-design with family members, students have come up with several proposals of how behavior change is likely to follow if people are made aware of and given the possibility with the use of IT to change their invisible digital consumption.

On Dec 2, students presented their work to CEO of Business Development & Marketing, Mette Daugård and CEO of EWII Fibernet, Klaus Hieronymus Stenger. The day was full of green insights from both the students and our two guests from EWII which offered students valuable feedback and advices on how to further develop ideas. The collaboration continues in the new year where a team of design researchers from Aalborg University (AAU) will embark on the project and together with University of Southern Denmark (SDU) and EWII will make a next move.