Description: Tools for assessing the systemic impact of technology deployments on energy use and climate emissions

PI: Dr Chris Priest, University of Bristol

Fund: £332k TEDDI 2 year

Project lifespan: Dec 2010 to Nov 2012




Digital technology is transforming the news, media and publishing industries, through the movement of activity to the web accessed both through PC and 3G phone, specialised eReader devices such as the Kindle, and the flexibility that digital printing offers over traditional offset approaches.

This transformation is coming at a time of increased concern over energy availability and greenhouse gas emissions. Will the transformation decrease or increase the energy requirements of the news and media industry? Can the industry embed an understanding of the future energy/climate implications in the strategic decisions it makes?

The SYMPACT project aims to support this understanding by considering a number of questions; what is the environmental impact of both print and online media? How will changes in technology alter this impact over time? How is digital technology changing customer behaviour now, and how might this happen in the future? What new business models do technological advances open up, and how will they affect the environmental impact? How will environmental factors, such as carbon pricing, act as business and behavioural drivers within this system? Beyond energy and climate, what other sustainability implications might this transformation have?


To tackle these questions, the project will develop a number of models of the current and potential future impact of digital transformations within the news, media and publishing industry. These will be developed using a combination of techniques from systems modelling, environmental life cycle analysis, scenario development and qualitative representation of uncertainty.

The models will be embodied in a flexible tool which will allow business strategists, sustainability professionals and other stakeholders to critique assumptions within them and explore alternatives. This will be done in such a way to allow future application to other industries.

Key outputs

  • Schien D, Wood SG, Shabajee P, Preist CW (2013) A Model for Green Design of Online News Media Services, World Wide Web Conference, May 2013, Rio de Janeiro
  • Schien, D, Preist, CW, Shabajee, P, Yearworth, M. (2013) Modeling and Assessing Variability in Use Phase Energy of Online Multimedia Services., Journal of Industrial Ecology
  • Schien, D, Shabajee, P, Wood S, Yearworth, M., Preist, CW, 12.9.2012, LCA for Green System Design of Digital Media, Proceedings of Electronics Goes Green 2012+

For a full list of outputs visit:

Academic partners

Dr Chris Priest

Dr Mike Yearworth

Dr Paul Shabajee

Dr Lauren Basson

Daniel Schien

Stephen Wood

Heppie Curtis

Commercial partners

The Guardian