Skip to the content
Category: FACTS

On the concept of frugal computing

An article by Wim Vanderbauwhede, Professor in Computing Science and a Reader at the University of Glasgow, on the need for low-carbon and sustainable computing, along with a vision towards zero-carbon computing.

The emissions from production of computing devices far exceed the emissions from operating them, so even if devices are more energy efficient producing more of them will make the emissions problem worse. Therefore we must extend the useful life of our computing devices. Frugal computing ↗︎

The article is deep, I strongly suggest to read it in full — especially if you care about the environment and the climate crisis. As a minimalist who’s using a 6-year-old laptop to do all his work, this kind of vision, especially when backed by science, is a godsend.

On the same topic, my somewhat loose interpretation of the concept of frugal computing is one of the many reasons I’ve decided to go back to a static website: less resources, zero back-and-forth through a database, complete control over the web calls I’m making, tiny backup sizes, etcetera.

The sustainable dev is another important resource about the same topic. From their homepage (emphasis mine):

There are over 1.9 billion websites live on the internet. All those websites have to be stored and loaded from a physical server somewhere in the world. With the average size of a web page now at over 2MB — that’s a massive amount of data being sent and received across the internet.
Sending and receiving data takes processing power. Processing power uses electricity and produces heat. Electricity is still being generated from fossil fuels more than it is from renewables. The sustainable dev