Indicators Sustainability © Photo Credit: ipopba -

Indicators Sustainability

Measuring sustainable ICT infrastructure

The aim of the study was to gain reliable insights into the most suitable indicators for measuring environmental impacts (according to the climate and environmental goals of the EU taxonomy) of electronic telecommunications infrastructure (ICT). For this purpose, a technology-open approach was chosen and the entire life cycle of the infrastructure was considered.

In a first step of the study, a broad analysis and evaluation of existing studies and expert opinions was carried out, which enable an indicator-based assessment of the ecological sustainability of electronic telecommunications infrastructure. The identified indicators were first checked for their basic suitability and assigned to the six climate and environmental goals of the EU taxonomy (climate protection, climate change adaptation, sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, transition to circular economy, prevention and reduction of environmental pollution, and protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems).

In a second step, an application-oriented, technology-open indicator set was developed for the overall economic assessment of the ecological sustainability of telecommunications infrastructure. The methodological systematization was carried out in three steps using a quantitative evaluation scheme: (1) examination of the relevance for the relevant ecological sustainability goals, (2) content-related and operational evaluation of the indicators and (3) expert assessment with regard to transferability and benefits for possible use cases in the telecommunications sector.

As a result, an indicator set for the assessment of the ecological sustainability of the telecommunications structure was created, which consists of 9 core indicators and 11 extended indicators as well as recommendations for the accompanying use of LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) indicators that contain a holistic life cycle assessment using LCIA (Life Cycle Impact Assessment) methods.