AIOTI’s IoT and Edge Computing Carbon Footprint Measurement Methodology

The second release of the Alliance for IoT and Edge Comunitng Innovation’s (AIOTI) report provides guidelines and methodology for IoT and Edge Computing stakeholders to assess the carbon footprint of their solutions and services and measure how they support carbon footprint reduction.  

Key points of the analysis included: 

  1. Selection criteria: guidelines for choosing the most suitable Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) methodology for different scenarios and industry sectors. 

  2. Initiatives and standards: an overview of existing carbon footprint measurement methodologies and their application to IoT and Edge Computing.

  3. Avoided carbon emissions: a method for calculating the avoided carbon emissions in industrial sectors when ICT is used as an enabling technology. 

The report introduced methodology to measure carbon footprint of five industrial domains: (i) smart networks, (ii) smart cities/buildings, (iii) connected mobility, (iv) precision farming, and (v) smart manufacturing. It focuses, respectively, on (pp. 46-57): 

  1. Electricity 
  2. Building environment 
  3. Mobility and transport 
  4. Food, forestry, and biodiversity 
  5. Industry and manufacturing 

Key takeaways:

  1. Focus on smart digital technologies: clean digital technologies can enable climate action and environmental sustainability by improving efficiency, facilitating the circular economy, and reducing emissions and pollution.


  2. Avoided emissions calculation: updated equations for calculating avoided carbon emissions in industrial sectors using ICT, focusing on baseline industrial scenarios supported by ICT solutions and green-enabled scenarios with advanced ICT solutions.


  3. Closed loop recycling: Consideration of the impact of closed-loop recycling/allocation processes on carbon emissions calculations.

Some clarifications on points 2 (avoided emissions calculation) and 3 (closed loop recycling):
This second version of the report updates the equations from its first version to calculate avoided carbon emissions in industrial sectors using ICT (pp.79-94 of the second report). It compares two versions of the same industrial scenario:

  1. Baseline (industrial) Scenario (Bs): This scenario uses an ICT infrastructure/solution (ictBs) for connectivity and emission reduction. If recycling is involved, it’s denoted as Bs_rcyc. 

  2. Green Enabled Scenario (Gr): This scenario uses an advanced ICT infrastructure/solution (ictGr) to replace ictBs features and reduce carbon emissions. If recycling is involved, it’s denoted as Gr_rcyc. 

The equations for calculating avoided carbon emissions consider factors like service type and ICT infrastructure load over time. Two types of equations are derived: 

  1. Total Avoided Carbon Emission (no recycling). 

  2. Total Avoided Carbon Emission (with recycling). 

Reusing entities/components will be addressed in future versions. 

Additionally, this report introduces a proposal for calculating the Total ICT Avoided Carbon Emissions metric, which measures the carbon emission benefits of replacing ictBs with ictGr in industrial scenarios. 

The way forward:

  1. Environmentally sound design and deployment of digital technologies:
    Minimise the carbon footprint of ICT (IoT and Edge computing).
    1. Measurement Challenges: Measuring ICT’s carbon reduction benefits is challenging; initiatives like the European Green Deal Coalition (EGDC) can assist.
    2. Standardized Metrics: Use standardized connectivity-related metrics to help stakeholders compare and evaluate the carbon reduction benefits of different solutions.
    3. Scope 3 Impacts: Include scope 3 impacts in CO2 e-footprint calculations.


  1. Digital Product Passport (DPP) enablement:
    IoT and Edge computing are crucial for realising DPP across various sectors.
    1. Implementation for Technical Industries: The ZVEI’s DPP4.0 concept, based on DNP4.0 and AAS, is a potential implementation.
    2. Consumer goods: ISO standards are essential for interoperability and transparency.
    3. PCF calculation methods: Not all Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) calculation methods are equivalent. Selection criteria are needed to choose the most suitable methodology for each scenario and industry sector.


  1. Citizen awareness and incentives:
    Increase citizen awareness and information to reduce energy and carbon footprints. Provide incentives for citizens to achieve these reductions.

    Interested in learning more about how we are building a world where sustainability is an integral part of technology and digital development through citizen engagement?

    Read about 6G4Society: Towards a sustainable and accepted 6G for society

  1. Digital technologies for indirect emission reduction:
    Use digital technologies (e.g., monitoring and controlling energy usage) to indirectly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as in manufacturing.
    1. Recycling: Recycling reduces dependence on primary raw materials and lowers the carbon emissions of products and systems.
    2. Agreed methodology for measuring avoided carbon emissions: Establish a unified methodology to measure total avoided carbon emissions in industry scenarios when applying ICT. This is crucial for the successful deployment of ICT solutions to reduce carbon emissions in industrial contexts.

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