After a year 2021 which saw the UbiCast team redouble its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible, we wanted to go further in 2022, trying to do better!
As a reminder, you can find the different actions we have taken in favour of the planet in this article.
Why we are determined to reduce our impact
As you know, video is not the least polluting sector.
Data storage, in addition to the energy needed to power data centres, contributes to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And videos consume bandwidth and therefore energy.
However, we can console ourselves with a few facts: at UbiCast, videos are stored on servers located in Europe, notably in France where energy is less carbon intensive.
Moreover, our customers produce videos with an educational purpose, which are used to replace hours of classroom teaching. Fewer hours of face-to-face lessons means fewer car journeys, and therefore a smaller carbon footprint.
But at UbiCast, we cannot hide behind these few examples which are obviously not enough!
How to do better in 2022?
In 2022, we therefore sought to reduce our carbon footprint by participating in various projects, or simply by rethinking the way we consume.
Offsetting our customers’ carbon emissions
This year again, UbiCast is participating in new reforestation projects in order to offset the CO₂ emissions of a large part of our customers.
When once know that trees are the first terrestrial carbon sink in France by sequestering up to 20% of our emissions, it is all the more important to support reforestation projects (even if carbon offsetting, and we will talk about it in more detail later, is only a small part of the solution...)!
Concretely, here is the approach we followed: after transposing the hours of streamed videos of 20 of our French and international clients into kilograms of CO₂, we looked for the equivalence in trees. Once this was done, we were able to say how many trees each of our clients had to plant in order to offset the carbon emissions emitted by the videos consumed.
The difference with last year is that in 2022, we reviewed our methodology for calculating emissions and translating them into numbers of trees, which was not fully completed the previous year. To do so, we used the calculator developed by IEA (The International Energy Agency).
According to the online calculator, 1 hour of video streamed from a computer, in HD and with wifi, in France, is worth 4g CO₂ eq.
The "CO2 equivalent" (CO2 eq) is a unit created by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to compare the global warming impacts of these different greenhouse gases and to be able to aggregate their emissions.
Then, we looked at how much CO₂ a tree absorbs. According to Ecotree, a tree absorbs about 25kg of CO₂ per year.
With these two data in mind, we were able to say how many trees were needed to offset the negative effects of video streaming for each customer.
In total, we planted 355 trees internationally and supported 3 reforestation projects!
UbiCast has participated in the reforestation of three areas by planting :
- 180 trees in Ommen, the Netherlands
- 167 trees in Wawa, Togo
- 9 trees in Sligo, Ireland
Many of our international customers are located in Ireland and the Netherlands, so we wanted to plant trees in these countries.
In the Netherlands, the planting will be used to rebuild a forest that was devastated by a hurricane in the summer of 2021. Formerly a monoculture of Scots pine, the project aims to diversify the existing stand with hardwood species to improve the forest's resistance to climatic hazards.
In Ireland, the forest has been devastated by ash blight, and is therefore calling for reforestation. A diverse mix of native hardwoods is introduced to the plot to make it more resistant, thus allowing it to develop micro-habitats for biodiversity.
Finally, we have chosen Togo, by financing a reforestation project aimed at strengthening the food security of local communities and enabling producers to develop additional sources of income through the sustainable production of forest products such as wood, fruit and honey. With 317 trees currently planted, we hope that our reforestation project of 355 trees will have a real impact by doubling the existing number.
By contributing to the restoration of forest ecosystems, UbiCast has allowed to:
- store 53 tons of CO₂
- create 1068 animal shelters
- generate 118 years of oxygen
- create 355 hours of work
As you can see, we are very happy to have replaced the traditional end-of-year gifts (usually the team offered chocolates or Christmas hampers) to make room for an action that has a real impact on our ecosystems, and we hope that our customers will appreciate the initiative!
However, it is important to mention that this is in no way greenwashing. Carbon offsetting is only the beginning of the solution because offsetting does not mean reducing! Carbon offsetting must not become a lever for climate inaction. This is why it is essential to accompany this approach with measures to reduce CO₂ emissions to preserve our planet. And that is precisely why we have implemented other actions and thought about more ways to reduce our footprint!
Did you know?
"With the current energy context of energy sobriety and the spectre of electricity load shedding looming at the beginning of this year, we thought it was time to remind you that for years, our Miris Manager tool has been able to schedule the switching off and on of your systems!
Watch the tutorial now (English subtitles available)!"
C.T.O. - Technical Director at UbiCast
Giving a second life to equipment
If you follow us on social networks, you probably already know about it. Last November, we said goodbye to our offices in Ivry-sur-Seine and moved to the 13th arrondissement of Paris. This change was of course accompanied by several initiatives and decisions to move towards carbon neutrality.
When we moved from a 450m² work area to a 30m² coworking space, we had to get rid of all the furniture and electronic objects we had accumulated over the years and no longer needed.
To do this, we called on the company ZACK to collect the computer equipment and give it a second life (resale, donation and recycling).
In this way, we have considerably reduced our environmental footprint by fighting electronic waste, and have also had a social impact by financing training hours for the professional integration of people in situations of exclusion and precariousness. The processing of electronic products is carried out at Ateliers Sans Frontières (Arès Group), which supports the professional reintegration of its members.
In total, this CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiative has allowed to:
- save 393 kg of material
- avoid 42.4 tons of CO₂, the equivalent of 21.2 round trips from Paris to New York by plane (after deduction of the carbon emissions due to the transport of the products)
- create 19 hours of work for professional reintegration projects
In the same way, Emmaüs collected more than half of our furniture and so did the Protection Civile du 6e arrondissement de Paris by collecting our kitchen; a good way to give a second life to objects while helping associations!
Compensating and recycling is good! Now, how to consume less to have a real impact and move towards carbon neutrality? At UbiCast, we have explored a few possible answers in recent months.
First of all, we have strengthened our telecommuting policy. More than half of our employees work outside of Paris, and the other half also telework at their own pace (often a few days a week, depending on their individual preferences). The result? A massive reduction in commuting! And when you know that the transport sector is one of the biggest contributors to GHG in France (31% of global emissions in 2019 according to government figures), the impact is real! Moreover, according to a study by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe) published in September 2020, working from home one day a week would reduce the volume of travel by 69% and the distances travelled each day by 39%! The average environmental benefit is therefore 271 kg of annual carbon equivalent per day of weekly teleworking.
And more remote work means fewer people in the office! This is why we have chosen to move our offices to reduce our working space and thus consume less.
Finally, to go in the same direction, we have just cancelled the leasing of our car in order to favour soft mobility for all our trips.
Our actions in 2022: compensate, recycle and consume less!
By implementing all these initiatives, we have in 2022, contributed to reducing our environmental impact.
And even if it is not yet perfect, we are making progress year after year, and that's the main thing!
Rest assured, in 2023, we will come back with even more actions to continue to act in favour of the planet!