Design Thinking for Sustainability and the significance of Stakeholder Engagement in the development of the Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry

Conference poster


Andrews, D, Bienge, K, Whitehead, B, Chenadec, J, Adibi, N and Kerwin, K (2020). Design Thinking for Sustainability and the significance of Stakeholder Engagement in the development of the Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry. 2nd International Conference on Life Cycle innovation (LCIC 2020),. Berlin 26 - 28 Aug 2020
AuthorsAndrews, D, Bienge, K, Whitehead, B, Chenadec, J, Adibi, N and Kerwin, K
TypeConference poster
Abstract

The World Wide Web developed during the 1980s and was formally introduced in 1989; since then it has facilitated rapid communication between people and objects and revolutionised business models and services across all major sectors. Such is the popularity of the technology that 59% of the global population is now ‘connected’ (1).
Digital communication is facilitated by human-centred technology (e.g. laptop and desktop computers and mobile phones) and data centres (DCs) which house digital data processing, networking and storage (ICT) equipment. The sector has already expanded rapidly to manage the increasing volume of data and it is predicted to grow 500% globally by 2030 (2). DC operation is energy intensive and the sector currently consumes 1% global electricity (3). It is also resource intensive and although the mass of materials utilised across the sector is unknown, it is estimated to be millions of tonnes.
Sectoral focus has always been provision of 100% uninterrupted service and performance and although economic and environmental considerations have encouraged operational energy efficiency, the impact of design and manufacture have been largely overlooked and consequently, most DC equipment is designed for a linear economy. This is becoming an increasing problem because the first life of much DC equipment is only 1 to 5 years; to date circular practices such as refurbishment, reuse and recycling at end-of-life are limited by human and technical factors and consequently the sector contributes to the growing global electrical and electronic equipment waste stream.
The CEDaCI project was initiated to kick-start a sectoral Circular Economy ahead of the predicted growth, in order to simultaneously increase resource efficiency and reclamation of Critical Raw Materials and reduce waste. The DC sector is comprised of highly specialised sub-sectors; however it is silo-based and knowledge exchange between sub-sectors is rare. Conversely, a Circular Economy is holistic by default and therefore expertise from all constituent sub-sectors is essential to enable development.
In order to overcome these and other challenges the CEDaCI project employs design-based methodologies, namely the four-stage Double Diamond design process model (introduced by the Design Council in 2004) and Design Thinking (developed and popularised by IDEO from 2009). The importance of stakeholder engagement to the development of the Circular Economy as a whole cannot be under-estimated and the presentation shares examples of tools and practice from the CEDaCI project to illustrate the value of design-process-based strategies to support development of the CE in other sectors.

Year2020
Accepted author manuscript
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Publication process dates
Accepted27 Apr 2020
Deposited30 Apr 2020
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