Announcing the (proposed) Technology Carbon Standard

By Oliver Cronk

Last week at the State of Open Con 2024, I announced on behalf of Scott Logic a proposed standard for assessing and managing technology-related carbon emissions. The proposed standard sets out an approach to classifying an organisation’s technology footprint in a way that enables consistent analysis and benchmarking of the carbon impact.

Similar to how the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol has definedOliver Cronk Scott Logic Bristol 2023 11 14 head shot E 2 Med Res emissions scopes, this Technology Carbon Standard (TCS) aims to provide a standardised framework for carving up enterprise technology estates. It aligns with the concepts of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

The TCS provides a useful architectural perspective for technology sustainability, with plans to move it beyond just carbon and cost considerations to provide a holistic view of potential impacts. While still in draft form pending community feedback, it represents the contribution to help drive clarity and consistency in how the industry measures and mitigates technology’s footprint.


Why a New Standard?

The goal of this Technology Carbon Standard is to provide a standardised method for organisations to map, measure, and mitigate the environmental impacts of their technology. This fills a gap between high-level consultancy guidance and specific projects tackling individual areas like cloud computing. Consistent standards facilitate productive conversations between sustainability stakeholders, technology leadership and practitioners.

By delineating an organisation’s technology estate into categories analogous to GHG Protocol scopes, technology practitioners can more easily identify the most carbon-intensive areas to prioritise for impact reduction. This is not intended to reinvent existing efforts in sustainability measurement and reporting. Where relevant, the methodology references and integrates with established open-source initiatives for calculating technology emissions.

The TCS allows technology leaders and practitioners to quickly identify areas for attention based on their organisation’s unique footprint. It serves as a starting point to then leverage existing open-source initiatives like those from Green Software Foundation and Green Web Foundation among other aligned projects.

Breaking down the categories

The TCS splits technology carbon emissions into three core categories:


Hardware manufacturing/component extraction and software development – so, this includes the embodied carbon from creating technology capabilities.


Direct emissions from owned IT infrastructure and indirect emissions from managed/cloud services.


Usage/end-of-life related emissions, also third-party, end-user emissions (users using your public-facing website or web applications, for example) – something that is significant for B2C organisations.

Within each area, clear subcategories provide granularity into specific sources based on the enterprise technology stack.

Architects are key to Sustainability

As per this presentation last year, and as previously discussed on A&G, architects have an important role in Sustainability in their organisations – they have a proactive role on looking at how technology can reduce the organisational footprint overall (be that through allowing for online collaboration, reducing travel and/or optimising supply chains and operational processes) or more defensively reduce the impact of technology itself on the planet. Architects need to start bringing holistic sustainability up the agenda.


The TCS does focus mainly on the Cost and Carbon aspects of this picture – as previously discussed the Open Source framework – and materials coming to the IASA BTABoK will be wider ranging.

Topic of Discussion at the Chief Architect Forum

I’m pleased to mention that this standard – and the wider role of Architecture in providing strategy and leadership in this space will be discussed at the Chief Architect Forum Europe Summit on the 11th/12th of April in Amsterdam – see here for details:

Invitation for Community Collaboration

The TCS is published under a Creative Commons (CC BY-SA-NC) licence allowing non-commercial free use and modification by the community. We welcome all feedback, suggestions, and collaborations on expanding the TCS via the Github project.

Standardising carbon accounting for technology is imperative as we collectively strive for more sustainable digital transformation. We’re excited to work with the community to evolve this proposed standard into an industry-wide asset.

You can find the Tech Carbon Standard at: and the GitHub repo at:

Massive thanks to the team

Finally, a huge thank you to the community inside and outside of Scott Logic (including our clients) who have helped to pull this together. Special mention to David Rees and David Hope who have instrumental in making this come to life so elegantly.

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