Green IO
#18 Deploying Sustainable IT under market pressure with Drew Engelson and Dominique Buinier
April 25, 2023
Can you deploy an impactful Sustainable IT strategy under market pressures? What if metrics are not there? What if your customers do not care? .. To get feedback on these questions, join Gaël Duez to meet two great leaders : Drew Engelson, Starbuck’s Director of Engineering in Seattle and Dominique Buinier, OCTO's Chief Operating Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer in Paris. ✅ Yes, raising awareness and training teams is key. No eco-design is not more expensive. Yes, many side-benefits can be leveraged on the road to sustainability. ➡️ Dominique and Drew gratefully shared their experiences and their views on the do and the don't when implementing sustainability in a Tech company. ❤️ Subscribe, follow, like, ... stay connected the way you want to never miss an episode!
Can you deploy an impactful Sustainable IT strategy under market pressures? What if metrics are not there? What if your customers do not care? .. 

To get feedback on these questions, join Gaël Duez to meet two great leaders : Drew Engelson, Starbuck’s Director of Engineering in Seattle and Dominique Bruinier, OCTO's Chief Operating Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer in Paris.

✅ Yes, raising awareness and training teams is key. No eco-design is not more expensive. Yes, many side-benefits can be leveraged on the road to sustainability. 

➡️ Dominique and Drew gratefully shared their experiences and their views on the do and the don't when implementing sustainability in a Tech company.

❤️ Subscribe, follow, like, ... stay connected the way you want to never miss an episode!

Learn more about our guests and connect

Drew is the Director of Engineering at Starbucks, responsible for overseeing the engineering teams that manage the Starbucks Rewards and Mobile Order and Pay platforms. With a strong background in software engineering, cloud, devsecops, and architecture, Drew has worked with numerous leading brands such as National Geographic, PBS, Marvel, Gannett/USA TODAY, Zipcar, and The White House.

Drew believes in responsible use of technology and optimizing the digital carbon footprint to achieve planet-positivity.

Dominique is the Director of Operations at OCTO, with an added role as Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), where she actively works to drive necessary transformations in the digital industry, tackling rising greenhouse gas emissions and social inequalities. As a long-time advocate and a woman in tech, she puts all her skills and expertise towards causes that are close to her heart. OCTO is one of the best places for her to bring her convictions to life. 

📧 You can also send us an email at to share your feedback and suggest future guests or topics.   

Drew and Dominique’s sources and other references mentioned in this episode


Gael: Hello everyone. In this episode we go to Seattle to enjoy, a Latte and Paris to enjoy a coffee. Why a latte? Because we meet Drew Engelson, Starbucks director of engineering, whose teams deliver the Starbucks reward in mobile order and pay platforms. That will be an understatement to say that Drew is a well known voice in tech sustainability.

Having been a vocal advocate for Green IT in many conferences, reinvent not being the least, that will be an understatement also to say that we've been trying to have him on the show for quite a long time- more than a year- to be honest, since we connected via the CAT community. So I'm delighted to have him today.

And why will we enjoy a cafe? Well, because in Paris you can enjoy delicious ones. So we have Dominique Buinier with us today. She's the partner in crime of Meriem Berkane OCTO's CTO, who initially should have joined us but had to cancel for personal reasons. Meriem was kind enough to introduce me to Dominique who has an amazing track record.

And OCTO, a very well non-digital services provider in Paris and beyond. They are the organizers of the USI conferences. OCTO is also among the early advocate of agility in France and sustainability. Since several years without talking too much about it. An interesting choice we will discuss later. Dominique is a software engineer by training who graduated from ENSTA school.

She has held various IT expert position in OCTO and then management once, and she's currently OCTO's Chief Operating Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer. She is the one who led the B Corp certification project successfully. Why having these two great leaders on the show today? Well both have shared the same challenge.

How to successfully deploy an ambitious IT sustainability strategy despite being companies under huge market pressure, from clients for OCTO and from financial markets. for Starbucks. I am eager to share their experience to gain valuable insights on the do and the don't. So welcome both of you. Thanks a lot for joining Green IO today.

Drew: Thank you for having us, and it's great to meet you, Dominique.

Dominique: Yes. Thank you for having us. Nice to meet you, Drew, too.

Gael: So my first question is the usual one. How did you become interested in sustainability and more specifically in the sustainability of our digital sector in the first place? Dominique, would you share a bit with us your journey?

Dominique: Yes, sure. Well actually it started three years ago when we decided to run for the B Corp certification. At that time we were not measuring anything at OCTO, I mean, on a environmental point of view. So we decided to start to measure our carbon footprint and at that time we chose to do the measurement on the free scopes.

And then it was an emotional shock, I can say, when we got the results because more than 50% of our footprint was related to our core business. That means related to the digital services and the digital products that we design and develop for our clients. Our day-to-day job, the purpose of the company is precisely what was the most bad I would say, on an environmental point of view.

And this carbon footprint was really, really the first time when I got interested in digital sustainability. I would say.

Gael: And before that, were you into the sustainability field?

Dominique: Yeah.

Gael: Drew?

Drew: For me, it started as a very personal journey in my personal life. My family does a lot of things. I tried to be good for the environment. You know, we'd drive electric cars, we were early adopters of that. We had put solar panels on our house. We'd try our best to use as, create as little waste as possible.

But at work, I felt like I wasn't being able to meet that specific or scratch that itch. Starbucks has a sustainability team with a chief sustainability officer, and they do so many things that help Starbucks be a a better organization and a better steward for our planet. And in fact, they have a whole history of sustainability investments going back to 1985 when they started offering the first 10 cent reusable cup discount.

But for me, the work that I was doing in the work my team was doing, felt slightly disconnected from those broader goals. So I spent some time thinking about how can I make it more relevant to me and my team and realized that, and should have been obvious that we built software and we run all of our software in the cloud right now at least for my platform.

And those cloud services consume a lot of energy. So there is definitely a direct correlation to the work that we do and the carbon that is admitted as a result of that. And I thought to myself, well :how do we go about measuring the impact of our software? And that really kind of kicked off the journey, which for me also started about three years where we started trying to figure out how to measure the impact of our software and then see how we can do even better.

Gael: That's interesting to notice that you've started both around three years ago, Dominique, from the B Corp certification. And Drew more on let's line what the sustainability team overall in Starbucks is trying to achieve, how as software engineers we can do our part. So my first question for you, maybe Drew would be, how did you onboard teams?

You had like this kind of personal momentum, I want to align things better between my personal life and what I do at work, but were you the only one? How did you create a momentum?

Drew: Well, it definitely started with within my own teams but first educating myself and working with some of my peers to understand how we're using our cloud resources and where we have opportunities for using fewer resources. Measurement became an initial problem. So before we can actually measure, it was important to come up with some methodology for determining how my team or anyone else's team is doing, are we doing good?

Where do we have opportunities for improvement? So I started with my own team. I started educating, you know, my leads, my managers on ways that we should think about our software. And as engineers and as really, which is our engineering, is our craft, I believe strongly that it's our duty to be the best engineers possible.

And that can't be done while ignoring the environmental impact of the software that we create. So, I did start with me and others who were interested. I've met other groups within Starbucks and people who are as passionate. It really is a sort of a ground up effort, you know, sharing ideas.

Sharing wins, sharing opportunities, sharing stories that we learn from other communities that we're involved with, and that's where it continues to go.

Gael: Well, that's very interesting, especially because you started right from the start with the metrics question, and we will come back to this point later, but Dominique, was it the same grownup approach who took place at OCTO or was it more a top-down decision from CEO or the board or whoever?

Dominique: Yes, it was a top down decision at the very beginning. Actually once we did the carbon footprint and. Then we explained it to the board of the company and the board decided right away to meet the Paris climate agreement and to reduce the carbon footprint. And that was the first decision.

So a very top down decision. And then we showed the same result. I mean the carbon footprint results to different teams and it was voluntary to come to those meetings and we had a lot of people coming. That was really, really interesting. And then we, as a top down decision, we asked the teams to train everyone on IT eco-design. Eco-design was the very first step that was needed for us. At that time, we were pretty much lucky because we had around 10 people very passionate about that and with a very strong expertise. But those 10 people, the previous years that they barely couldn't do anything with their expertise. But then starting with our top down decision, we ask those 10 people to help the different teams to build the necessary trainings and to start to deliver the trainings.

And for us, we had to change almost everything. That means the way we design, the way we develop, the way we do machine learning, the way we choose the cloud providers, how we design architecture, and so on and so on. Just like Drew said, we do craft also, and so we really want to improve ourselves. So I would say that training was our way to onboard teams under sustainability tracks. 

For example, for the last two years when we do have a new hire, they spent one day on sustainable IT within the first month when they joined the company. And at the end of this day, we show them all the trainings that they can have and they can follow as many trainings as they want.

It's kind of open bar green trainings. It's very important for us that if they want to train, if they want to improve themselves, they can do it. So this is one radical thing. I think it's the more radical one because other things, we are still on the process. That means that, for example, the designers, the product owners, we try to have them challenge the roadmaps, the story maps of their clients. Sometimes, they can do that. Sometimes they just don't all allow themselves to do that. So it is really where we want to go, but it's not that easy.

Gael: And what are the main challenges you face? Because that, that's very interesting because OCTO, you develop things both for internal use, but also mostly for your clients. And what are the main push bags or the main hurdles that you face with your clients when you want to implement eco design or some new architectural choices, for instance, that are more sustainable, that would reduce some environmental impact?

Dominique: First of all, the clients think that it's gonna cost them more to do eco-design because their teams are not trained because they don't really know about that. So most of the time they think it will cost much more. So this is clearly the first misunderstanding and when we talk to clients right now, our clients that are not really the French tech ecosystem. They are traditional clients, I would say. Sustainable IT is not an issue for them so far. It is really the very, very beginning. So it's pretty much difficult. So what we are trying to do right now is to switch to, I would say, eco-design by design.

That means that we don't ask any permission to develop like that. It is just the way we do the code.

Gael: Well, that's very interesting. This move like by default you do things in the green way, in a sustainable way, and you don't really ask permission for it. A bit like you would design things to be secure by default and security by default or that kind of approach.

Dominique: Exactly.

Gael: And Drew, you work mostly for internal clients, I would say, you have like millions of users of your platform. But I would say the product people are the one deciding with you what to implement, what features, et cetera, et cetera. Did you have the same hurdles? Did you face the same difficulties regarding adoption of a more sustainable way of delivering products, especially digital products?

Drew: First of all, I love that word, eco-design and I think design is actually the easiest time to think about the environment. Cause it tends to be a process of elimination and simplification. You know, do I really need that fancy animation on this webpage? You know, and it's easier to not build it.

It's cheaper to not build that fancy animation. So for me, you know, we had already built a lot of our platform before we started thinking about the sustainability angle to it. And had already done a lot of optimization just for cost optimization purposes, and some of the early understanding of how sustainability and how our environmental impact relates to other metrics, we have easier access to, like cost. You know, we were able to look back in time at some of our cost optimization efforts and saw that it very strongly correlated to lower carbon emissions. And that was really added fuel to the fire to continue to look for those opportunities. And really show that being greener is not more expensive in most cases.

In fact, I don't think any cases we had, we've made any sort of sacrifices to the capabilities of the platform. It's really how we went about building those capabilities and further optimizing them over time.

Gael: So that's interesting because to wrap it up. The two main issues you might face with your clients, whether they are internal clients or external clients, is this misconception of greener equal more expensive. Where actually it's more greener equals cheaper. Whether it's because you design less stuff, so you produce, you deliver less stuff or because you optimize also your costs, et cetera, et cetera.

It all goes back to raising awareness that you first need your customers or your clients to understand that there is something at stake. And otherwise they will not make the first move. So that's very interesting that both of you, you shared in with a very different angle the same challenge and eventually you say, well, that's all wrong, actually, greener is most of the time cheaper, not all the time, but most of the time cheaper.

Is that correct?

Drew: Yeah, and I could add, I mean, it's very simple math when you're running in the cloud, right? The more efficient your application, the simpler it, the fewer cloud resources you would need to deliver that application directly correlates to lower cost. So that's kind of easy math in my opinion.

Gael: So both of you, you mentioned tools. Before we discuss a bit more specifically, which tools did you use? What are the hurdles you might have faced using them? I'd like to go back to the question of metrics because the very first thing you started Drew with your team was trying to measure things and what triggered the decision to go full speed on sustainability.

On OCTO side, was this carbon audit ?And the huge impact that was created by designing and developing software services? What are the main issues you faced with metrics and what are the metrics you decided to track?

Dominique: Maybe I can start if you want, because it may seem weird as a consultancy company, but actually., I don't really care about metrics. And I don't really care if our metrics are really accurate or not. For example just to make my explanation more clear. When we started our first carbon carbon footprint, we knew it was gonna be wrong.

We knew that we were going to make lots of mistakes. What we knew at that time is that the real measurement should be way higher, way higher. For us, it doesn't matter because the main learning was not the level of our footprint, but the main learning was that we needed deeply to change how we were going to do IT services.

So for us, it was clear that it was going to be a change management program. So it's kind of weird, but metrics for us so far. I'm saying, so far, is not the key point.

Gael: Drew, how much are you aligned with this approach?

Drew: I do have a similar opinion. I mean, the very first question I asked myself is, you know, what is the environmental impact of the system? Our teams are responsible for delivering to this world. And I had no idea how to answer that question. So I started looking for metric. What metrics do I need to be tracking?

What tools exist? There were very few answers to those questions you know, three plus years ago. But I generally knew, you know, just common sense tells me that you know, if I consume fewer cloud resources, I'm kind of really having a lower environmental impact. It just, to me, was a sort of a common.

A statement. So really decided to build my own tool at first. And we did this during a hack week, a few years ago, just over about two days. You know, I've been thinking about it for a long time, but took this hack week opportunity to go build something with some other engineers and partner with our sustainability.

And I asked the sustainability team how they account for my team's carbon footprint. You know, and as you might expect for such a large organization, it's a very broad approach. You know, they have tables and mappings and things like that, but one interesting thing I learned at that time was Starbucks technology as a whole, accounts for roughly maybe 1% of the total carbon footprint of Starbucks. And you know, over 20% is just kind of the dairy that's used in our stores and that whole supply. So the reality is that because it wasn't a big target, there wasn't a lot of, you know, detail I can pull out of it. So I thought, you know, how do I go create my own metrics and, you know, ultimately said, okay, well I'll look at our cost that's directly correlated to the number of resources I'm using or our compute hours and for various services and built like a mapping between those metrics I have easy access to from our cloud dashboards. Apply some algorithm to it and, and come up with a number. Right? And I did that and we created, you know, a chart over time. And in addition to that also thought about building a recommendation engine. So not only what is the carbon footprint, which by the way, at that time was a complete wild guess.

Accuracy was not my goal, but starting somewhere was my goal. The recommendation engine are things that I just intuitively felt: if we did these things, we would consume fewer resources, we would be more efficient, and we would therefore have a lower carbon footprint on our platform. And just started listing out a whole bunch of those things.

And then came up with ways I can detect, well, am I doing those things or not? What opportunities do we have for improvement? For example, do we have greatly underutilized resources just sitting out there in the cloud, doing that a whole lot, could they be running on smaller businesses? Can we turn them off and move those workloads elsewhere and more densely pack and get higher utilization of our platform?

So those were sort of common sense things, and in the end, those are really the things that are most important to me. What areas do we have for just improving what we do? Not necessarily actual number.

Gael: Coming back to the metrics. I think that's maybe the most interesting aspect of our discussion so far, because you are both trained engineers, you are people working in a life of data. You put for accuracy, precise metrics, et cetera, and both of you, you come back with the, the same knowledge sharing, which is "we don't have that much accurate data when it comes to the environmental footprint.

It's getting better and better, which far from being something that much actionable, but we don't care. Because the trend, the momentum is way more important than the accuracy of the metrics." I think that's very interesting because it's very easy to push back for change, asking for more reliable metrics.

So do you agree, both of you, that metrics, it's okay to start with good enough or even garbage metrics if they are consistently immersed and that over time it helps improve and that all of their CTO, all of their CPO, all their head of engineering, they should, you know, cut a slack on the accuracy of carbon footprint and many other environmental footprints and start moving forward.

Is it an accurate way to wrap up what you've just both said.

Dominique: From my point of view, yes.

Drew: I'd agree with that, although I would also be quite happy if I did have accurate data.

Dominique: Sure. But we just don't want to spend time on that because we prefer to spend time on what you've said, the momentum, how you change the way people take their good sense decisions.

Gael: Hmm.

Dominique: Day to day work.

Drew: Yes, I would completely agree with that statement. And we are seeing better data coming from various sources. Our cloud providers are attempting now to create you know, a dashboard for their customers, to provide, access to carbon footprint metrics, which is something that really wasn't possible even just a few years ago.

Gael: How do you feel about those metrics? Starting to arrive and starting to be available. Are they good enough? How much? You mentioned in both of you, you work a lot with cloud providers, so the big three obviously, is it getting better or is it still a long road to go?

Drew: I'd say yes and yes. Like it's certainly a long way to go. But something is better than nothing. You know, I was fortunate enough when I presented at AWS Reinvent, I think it was maybe two years ago, two and a half years ago, I helped announce the AWS carbon footprint tool. You know, on the same day I was of my presentation, I co-presented and you know, I was happy to see that it get announced and launched a few months later. But it's kind of stagnated ever since then. I'd really love to see that get much more sophisticated, provide API access, and really provide a lot more granular detail for their customers. 

Gael: Fair point because AWS is under a bit of scrutiny, I would say, these last days with all the layoff and not moving that fast anymore compared to others. But the trend as a very big AWS client, do you still see a positive trend toward more transparency and sustainability from the AWS US team?

Drew: I do and, and overall, you know, really kind of building on Dominique's point a minute ago. You know, it's one thing to have the data, but AWS also made some of the largest renewable energy purchases in the world over the last two years. I'd rather have them do more of that than get better data from me.

It's my opinion.

Gael: Where is a priority. Yeah. And they do have a lot of infrastructure to provide with greener energy because they're stuck in some region in the US with not that low carbon energy or not that low carbon electricity to be more correct. But, okay. That's good that we started to mention AWS USbecause I wanted to ask both of you, what are the main tools you used?

I mean, we talked a lot about metrics. Obviously you started with people. You started with training, raising awareness, et cetera. But what are the tools that you mobilized to achieve your journey into IT sustainability, I would say.

Dominique: Since last October, I think we are pretty much lucky in France because we do have a new tool, and this tool has been designed by the French government and its name is RGESN and it stands if I want to translate it in English, it stands for general framework for eco-designing digital services. This framework has 79 questions.

It only takes half a day to perform an auto assessment, and then you get a first score and you have ideas about what you can improve. So it is a very first step to be achieved For us, it's a great tool. Certainly it's not enough, but at least I think it would be really great if every company could use it because it's free. And now at OCTO, we are running this assessment on every project we do for our clients. And what's amazing is that you got a score out of 100%. And when the team sees that there are about 40, 45%, then the team wants to go further. So we are at the very, very beginning of using this framework, but so far I find it much more powerful than all the top-down decisions that we have been taking so far.

Gael: With a bit of gamification on top of it, I want to get top score.

Dominique: Exactly. Exactly.

Gael: And which areas does this tool cover? Is it only about how you design your digital service, or is it also on how you host it?

Dominique: Exactly. You have eight different topics. You have topics about where your cloud provider, you have topic about on which kind of mobile your service is going to be running. You have topics in every field. When you design and develop and run digital services. It's really a good wide approach.

Gael: And we will put the link to this tool description in the show notes, obviously as usual. Drew, you mentioned already AWS sustainable dashboard, but did you leverage other tools like the assessment, an assessment grid as Dominique's just mentioned, or other tools to empower your teams and hand them into the sustainable journey.

Drew: Yes. And that, by the way, that framework sounds fantastic. I want one. Starbucks is in every cloud, but I'll talk about AWS cause that's the one I work most closely with for my systems. Prior to our sustainability journey, we were already very familiar and had worked very closely with the AWS well architected framework.

We had been through several reviews to make sure we're secure, efficient, cost effective, and all the other different pillars they have or still haven't and had in that framework. But, you know, again, about two years ago also at Reinvent, AWS launched sustainability pillar to the well-architected framework.

And that's actually a very similar sounding kind of set of questions that get asked. And ultimately generate a report on, you know, how well you're doing, what opportunities exist for further improvement. And again, that's a similar thing. If you're doing well, there's just a few more things.

Let's go tackle those things and finish the job, or look how much further we have to go. Let's go ahead and tackle the most important highest priority element. Moving forward. So that's actually a big piece of it. Along the journey of trying to figure out how to measure a carbon footprint, it definitely leveraged other tools.

You know, one more tool that comes to mind that I depended on to help quantify our carbon footprint as well as some opportunities for improvement, is cloud carbon footprint. An open source tool that was put out by the ThoughtWorks team to help ingest cloud usage data, cloud diagnostic. Usage data and generate reports that show cloud usage and cloud carbon footprint over time.

Even to this day, I actually use some of the logic that's used inside of cloud carbon footprint, but I apply it to some of my other Datadog dashboards that I look on a regular basis.

Gael: Yeah, cloud carbon footprint was actually the latest question on the Friday pool that we have now, the weekly pool that we have on the Green IO channel. Cause we gathered so much knowledge from all our guests that we decided to have this little game. And that's quite fun that you mentioned it because that carbon footprint was actually the latest question.

Bouncing back on what you said, Drew, actually, I realize that the referential, the assessment grid that Dominique mentioned does not have an English version. If among the listeners there are any people who'd like to volunteer to translate it, to put it somewhere on the internet, I will be more than happy.

And I will actually ask this question also on a few social networks. I try to be active and that will be actually super cool if someone, of course, on a purely open source, with a purely open source approach, would like to translate it and put it somewhere. Yeah. We'll be super happy to give him or her a hand.

But I think that will be very useful. You're not the first English speaker to tell me, oh, actually, I'd like to have a look at it now. You've got a plugin also that you can put on your brother so that the way to implement your diagnosis. So, very interesting tool, and it might also help a bit the discussion we're having at the W3C.

It goes beyond simple Web design, but it's interesting as well. That being said. Let's try to take a step back and with everything you shared so far and all those experiences, ongoing experiences, because I do understand your message to both of you that it's still in early stage, you're still on a continuous improvement approach.

The job is not done. And I actually don't believe it could be ever completely finished. The sustainability is a journey. It's not a destination. What if you had the ability to fast forward yourself in the future, what would you say to your future yourself in terms of do and don't?

Dominique: If I were in a magic world. That means that I think my advice would be to hire already committed people. May seem very, very easy. But for me it's key to have a team fully aligned on the same purpose.

Drew: And I love finding the right people. That's actually a great one, and I think Starbucks actually has sort of inherently a lot of those people. To begin with, our mission, our mission statement, is to inspire and nurture the human spirit, one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time. That's a very positive message, and it seems to attract people who want to do good, who have this sort of mission driven at their core. You know, if I were, you know, leading an organization in the future and I wanted to make sure we did this right, I would be, you know, super clear that this is important, right? It's important across the board. I would empower everyone to come up with ideas within their own systems.

They know what best engineers know their systems, on how they can do better, what opportunities exist frequently, and that's just the way they design things. But other times it does require investment. And we wanna make sure we match the investment with, you know, how important we feel this is for our company and the world.

Gael: So starting with people, I feel very much aligned with what you both said. Now, taking a further step back, I'd like to ask you a couple of question going beyond tech teams. And my first question will be, and that one might be especially true for you, Drew, how green for tech and green by tech initiatives work together.

Drew: Yeah, it is a good question and it's not something I've dealt with directly. I've not had, you know, what we call the business side, ask my team specifically to do some green initiative, but that does happen quite a bit, you know, in the sustainability team or some other business. Department is looking to, you know, achieve some results or deliver some new capability that tech can deliver.

So that happens quite a bit. The five tech initiatives are ones that tend to come out of like our just inspire people that have an idea and either kind of bring it up to as a proposal or do it as kind of hack sort of situation. A lot of our hack projects which we tend to do once or twice a year.

You know, they get voted on and some of the best ideas get shared much more broadly. They get presented to our executive leadership teams and very frequently, more recently, more frequently, they're getting actual funding to go even further. That's where I think a lot of the by tech initiatives come from.

Gael: Dominique, what about greenwashing? Was it an issue? Was it the reason maybe starting with OCTO that you decided actually to be quite quiet about this move, this internal move into tech sustainability?

Dominique: Well, just like I said, it's a journey and we are really afraid of greenwashing at OCTO. Not only greenwashing, I mean, when we advocate for something, when we communicate about something. We really want that there is no issue and so we have started to communicate about sustainability and we communicate about our efforts, our findings.

We communicate of what we try, what we succeed, but what we don't succeed. We are more communicating about the journey. And less about achievements. But I think that now with the new framework. I think that we will soon be able to prove, because this is, I mean, a state framework, we will much more be able to prove what we are saying.

Drew: And I think greenwashing is always a concern. Speaking for myself, I do talk a lot about, you know, sustainable technology. But I certainly don't do it with a lens towards," Hey, look at all this great work we did "and use that as sort of the main point. The main point is I think we're always learning. If I have something that I learned and I can share that with someone else that helps them, that's a win for everybody.

So I think it is about the journey, it's about the details and opportunities for constant growth.

Gael: Yeah, thanks both of you. A very touchy topic and I've got a second one for you. And then I will ask you easier questions, I promise. But the second tough question is that you are both working in companies with big objectives when it comes to growth. Do you believe that decoupling, so only talking about carbon emission, a greenhouse gas emission, sorry.

Do you believe that decoupling can be achieved, but you can grow a company without growing greenhouse gas emissions at some point?

Drew: I think to a point, you know, we've definitely seen that within some of our platforms. You know, let's look at the last three years for our loyalty engine doubled the size of that business. That doubled the number of active users on that platform. You know, the carbon footprint is significantly down from when we started during that time.

And costs are down too and operational costs. Now we might look at that and say, wow, we were quite bloated three years. Which is true, but I think that over time, the lens of cost optimization and then after that carbon optimization has really gotten us to decouple that the growth from the actual cost and carbon.

Now at some point, these two things coalesce into and become more tightly coupled, and that's where I think it's less about the metrics itself and more about what opportunities exist for us to become more efficient both from a cost and department perspective.

Gael: Thank you. And Dominique, do you have an opinion on it as well ?

Dominique: Yes, I have an opinion. It's a very, very personal one. And my answer is no, I don't think so. And it's very difficult for me to say that because I like IT. I like this kind of industry. But we know that we do have a big issues with planetary boundaries. And we know that IT honestly is not doing any good on planetary boundaries right now. So I really think that we need to change the way we do business. Probably IT could help sometimes, probably it could not. I know this is a very political point of view, but I think that we really need to challenge the way we do business.

Gael: Thanks for sharing it, Dominique. That's not always easy. No judgment on this podcast. So I'm very happy that you feel free enough to share your vision, and that is true that Planetary Boundaries is a true challenge on how much we believe we can grow our current system, especially then we incorporate social injustice and stuff like that and where people should catch up and where people should slow down.

But that's, I mean, you've got great podcast and, and all the content discussing this topic way better than I could ever done, but that's still a very interesting point of view. Okay, so that was a difficult question. I'm super grateful that both of you, you agree to answer it very openly and honestly.

My two last questions are easier promise. The first one is, you already shared a bit about this. In one or two sentences maximum. What are the trend that you noticed in our industry today? Is it going toward the right direction when it comes in terms of sustainability, of awareness about all those environmental impacts?

I know that we focused a lot on greenhouse gas emissions today, but there are more environmental impacts like water usage, abiotic resource depletion, et cetera, et cetera. But hey, that's the way you started your journey. So I didn't want to lead the witness into things that were not actually things that you wanted to share. What is the trend that you've noticed both in Europe and more, maybe specifically in France for Dominique and in US for Drew, but actually you're both quite involved in community like climate action tech, we mentioned it, tech rocks for OCTO. So what are the trends that you've not noticed recently?

I would say the last two years.

Dominique: Well, France seems to be moving fast on sustainable IT. When I see the communities, the numbers of experts on that topic, but it's always too slow for sure. And you're right, it's not only about greenhouse gases and energy anymore. Now in France we tend more and more to use the lifecycle assessments and we try to go beyond carbon emissions because it's also a matter of what the usage biodiversity.

So it's the beginning, but now we are talking less about greenhouse gases and well, I see two trends. And it's different among companies. For non-tech companies, IT sustainability is not an issue so far. Just like Drew said, most of the time, the sustainability issues are somewhere else not on IT, so it's pretty much difficult for those companies, or for us as consultancy company to move on that topic. And in the French tech ecosystem, you have a few companies which have really started to take IT sustainability into account, but right now it's far to be the majority of them. So I really, really hope that the new tool I was talking about will help. 

Drew: And I think from, you know, a general perspective, when I started this journey, you know, again, three years back, I would struggle to encounter somebody who knew what I was talking about when I asked about sustainable IT. Fast forward to today, I think it's a fairly common topic. I think it, you know, ways to go as we said earlier, but at least it's understood.

There's a growing sets of communities of people thinking about these problems. And you know, as far as in sort of in the US, I actually looked to Europe. And what's happening there to understand really kind of the forefront of what we could be doing. So I appreciate what you're doing Gael and Dominique.

Gael: So thanks a lot for sharing your views on the general trend, both in the US and in France. And I promise this will be my last question, but if you had one or two resources to share with your audience to learn more about digital sustainability, IT sustainability, or sustainability at large. It could be book, it could be thought leaders, it could be articles, conference, whatever, podcasts of course. What would you like them to read or to listen to?

Drew: Well, I think we've already mentioned this one, but I really enjoy the climate action tech community. It's a Slack community. Amazing people with a fantastic set of organizers that are really kind of inspiring and help me learn and grow along my journey. And through that group, I learned about, you know, the Tom Greenwood's Sustainable Web design book that came out from a book apart a few years ago.

The kind of, you know, it's not a long book, but it actually does a very broad sort of overview of Web engineering sustainably and calls out a lot of different areas for sites can be improved and further resources are identified. I gave this book to every single person on my team as just a bit of inspiration.

Dominique: As for myself, those are going to be references for French speakers. Sorry about that. I really like a podcast from Richard Hanna, and the podcast is Techologie. So I find it very interesting because he invites different kind of of people doing sustainable IT just like developers, designers that they talk about accessibility, not only about eco-design.

Very, very interesting one. Techologie. And the second one is a MOOC it's a MOOC from INRIA, INRIA is a digital research organization in France. And I mean it's a MOOC which is free. And the name is the environmental impact of digital technologies. This is very well explained. Very well done to start on that topic.

Gael: And actually Dominique, you shared references that are available in English, so thanks a lot for that because INRIA has an English version. Yeah. And when I do a digital collage session in the English version of La Fresque du Numérique, I always mention obviously INRIA as materials to dive a bit deeper into the topics. INRIA has an English version and regarding Techologie you have a few episodes in English, I believe, and I must say that with the other French podcast L'Octet Vert so in English, I think it could be transferred by Green Byte. They are the two podcasts that inspired me to launch Green IO. I mean, there are two giants, Richard Hanna and Tristan Nitot that I owe a lot, and I'm very happy that thanks to you I can salute them and say to all the French speakers that please make sure that you pay attention to this two podcasts.

They're great. I mean, you can listen to almost all the episode, that's very valuable information. And when it comes to the climate action tech community, we've already mentioned it several times, but "hello everyone, so happy, all those great facilitators, all those great coordinators doing an amazing job."

So I'm super proud to be part of this community and I'm very grateful that I've been able to meet Drew thanks to you. And that's it. I would like to, once again, thank you for this beautiful conversation answering easy question. Mm, no, I don't think that there were that many easy questions. Very hard questions, very transparent answers.

So thanks a lot for both of you. I hope it will help a lot of tech leaders, product leaders, data leaders, sustainability leaders, to kickstart their journey or to ramp up their journey into sustainability, where tech is a great part of it, whether it's green by Tech, or Green for Tech. Thanks a lot, both of you.

It was a pleasure to be on the show. Have a great morning for Drew. Have a great evening for Dominique and I think I'm gonna call it a day now. Thanks a lot.

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