Responsible digital technology: computer calculations in boilers

Thursday, 8 june 2023

For the past few weeks, some of the calculations carried out by Natixis Corporate & Investment Banking’s trading room have been running on ‘digital boilers’ supplied by the French SME Qarnot with a view to recovering the heat generated by the computers and heating water circuits.

A crucial step in the responsible digital strategy pursued by Natixis Corporate & Investment Banking and Groupe BPCE: instead of using expensive and energy-intensive air-conditioning and ventilation systems to dissipate the waste heat generated by computer calculations, the heat is recycled directly into urban heating networks, swimming pools or building complexes. The parameters of the boilers are adjusted to match the incompressible amount of heat used by the infrastructure, guaranteeing that the energy produced can be reused all year round, without running the risk of overheating.

The choice of this eco-responsible service provider forms part of the strategy adopted by Natixis Corporate & Investment Banking and Groupe BPCE regarding digital sobriety and risk management, including high standards of security, performance and control of climate-related costs. It complements the great many initiatives taken over the past several years to promote responsible digital technology and enhance overall data-center efficiency. 

This strategy of digital sobriety gathered pace in 2019 with the signing of the Responsible Digital Charter, followed by the establishment of a responsible digital management function entrusted with the organization of projects. Groupe BPCE has set itself the target of reducing the carbon footprint of its IT activities by 15% and improving the energy efficiency of its data centers by 7% over the period 2020-2024.

To achieve this goal, a large number of actions are being pursued in four main areas: optimizing the efficiency of the four data centers by controlling their energy consumption and giving priority to renewable energies; digital eco-design, with each project now subject to a scoring tool; increasing the lifecycle of IT equipment by lengthening the period of use and giving priority to recycling; and finally, spreading the word about responsible digital in order to get all the Group’s 100,000 employees on board. 

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