Measuring the environmental impact of IT/IS solutions – A life cycle impact modelling approach
The academic community has already taken notice of the interactions between information technologies (IT), information systems (IS), business organizations and the environment. Despite the interest garnered, research and modelling approaches on the environmental impact of IT/IS are usually explored only through qualitative approaches. This paper introduces a way for researchers and practitioners to engage with the environmental impact of IT/IS solutions in a more quantitative manner using flow based life cycle assessments (LCA). Distinct from other life cycle assessment studies, this research paper confirms that integration of information flows within life cycle inventory analysis can be both useful and viable. Our work presents a conceptual framework for flow-based LCA within the context of IT/IS consisting of possibilities for defining functional units, a meta model for building symbiotic inventory models, the use of established software tools and databases as well as concrete actions to apply our framework within simulation studies. We hope that better knowledge of the environmental impact of IT/IS solutions will facilitate an effort for more sustainable solutions. The framework was derived by literature review, design science research and evaluated via a simulation.
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