Spork’s scoop on…
Sustainable Design Practices for the UK’s Green Future

6 mins

The shift towards a greener, more sustainable future is now a central business priority and C-suites across all sectors are looking for ways to meet environmental goals while still prioritising business growth. At Spork, we don’t just design products and solutions to help our clients achieve sustainable growth. We’re also committed to helping clients make technology decisions that are as environmentally responsible as possible as part of that process.

We all know that technology plays a central role in our lives, driving innovation, enhancing daily activities, and shaping the way we interact with the world. It’s also a critical tool in finding ways to not only mitigate climate change but adapt to the reality of climate change as well. 

At the same time, it is essential to understand and acknowledge that despite technology offering numerous benefits, it also has  significant environmental impacts in and of itself. 

That is where the importance of sustainable design practices comes into play.

Designing for Sustainability

Globally, the UK’s stated environmental targets are considered reasonably ambitious, aiming for net zero emissions by 2050. That ambition might well change, but either way, the role of technology in achieving these goals cannot be overstated. Making choices based on eco-friendly design principles will enhance an organisation’s contribution to these efforts. 

These principles involve considering the energy consumption of digital solutions, the way those solutions are designed, the materials used in hardware, and the overall lifecycle of tech products.

  • Energy-Efficient Software Design: Software design plays a crucial role in the overall energy consumption of digital activities. Optimised code, less complexity of applications, and using more energy-efficient algorithms mean software runs more smoothly and requires less energy. And not just a bit more smoothly. According to Accenture, companies can reduce application energy consumption by up to 50x by selecting the appropriate programming language for the task. Cloud-based solutions are another piece of the efficiency puzzle, as many providers utilise renewable energy sources and optimise data centres for efficiency.

Data minimisation is another way to make software more sustainable. Simply put — storing, processing and moving data requires energy consumption. And the more data you have, the more energy it uses, even just sitting in storage. 

And when we say just sitting there, we mean that literally. Some of that data is JUST sitting there, not being used. It’s called ‘dark data’ — a term coined by Gartner to describe data collected, processed and stored in the course of ‘business as usual’ activities but generally not used for any other purpose. Not only is it serving no purpose, but it is the majority of the data currently in storage across the business world. According to The State of Dark Data report from Splunk, 55% of organisational data is dark. 

So, if it’s not serving a purpose, why do we need it? If you can cut the amount of data you need, you cut the energy consumption involved. And given that the  International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that about 1.5% of total global electricity use is down to data centres and data transmission networks, this can only be a good thing. By employing data minimization practices, companies reduce energy consumption — and bonus! Such practices can also help protect user privacy.

  • Sustainable Product Innovation: When considering the best approach to product innovation, it is worth considering the findings of research in the Standish reports: large software projects boast a mere 6% success rate compared to a 62% success rate for smaller projects.

At Spork, we see an opportunity for sustainable innovation in that disparity. By scaling down project scopes and focusing on fewer, crucial features, not only do we save time and curb resource wastage, we have more opportunities to decrease the operational energy demand of the systems we deploy.

Adopting this approach, targeting just what users need, leads to streamlined software solutions that contribute to a broader, more sustainable business strategy — enhancing growth while benefiting the environment.

By committing to sustainable product innovation, we’re not just developing software; we’re crafting solutions that are as good for the planet as they are for our clients.

  • Sustainable User Experience (UX) Design: UX design contributes to the sustainability of digital products when user interactions are optimised to reduce resource usage.

First and foremost, by streamlining those interactions; optimising content and creating clear paths for navigation through good information architecture so that users spend less time searching for what they need. Why is that important? Think about what happens when users can’t find what they want or what they want isn’t very clear. They hit the search engines — or worse energy intensive LLMs like Chat GPT — to find clarification or more details. Suddenly more sites and multiple servers are involved, raising the environmental impact of that user engagement.

It really is straightforward — if people spend less time going from screen to screen, generating fewer calls to fewer servers, the carbon footprint of that interaction is lower.  Also, your end-user has had a more satisfying experience. A win for you, your user, and the planet!

Another contribution UX can make to lowering your product’s digital carbon footprint is choosing ‘lightweight’ design, reducing media that provides little or no real value. Do you NEED that large, animated file? Are there more eco-friendly options that can deliver the same quality of information and engagement with lower load times?

Finally, adopting a UX position that actively rejects what are collectively called ‘dark pattern’ practices has a lot of benefits but the one we concern ourselves with here is how rejecting them keeps your digital products ‘greener’. These practices are a kind of digital bait-and-switch. It means processes and pages designed to keep you on sites longer than is necessary to increase Active Usage time. An example almost all of us can relate to? Easy sign-up processes paired with incredibly difficult, convoluted, multi-screen cancellation processes.

Conscious UX design — factoring in the sustainability of design decisions from the start — is vital to increasing the environmental sustainability of digital products.

  • Green Web Hosting: As highlighted in one of our previous blog posts, choosing a web host committed to renewable energy or carbon footprint offsets is one of the simplest, quickest ways to minimise your online environmental impact.

Collaboration and Compliance

Sustainable technology practices are not something that happens in silos. It requires collaboration between designers, developers, businesses, and policymakers. It is the only way to achieve standards and guidelines that promote eco-friendly design and are supported across industries.

And it is important to point out that compliance with environmental regulations, such as the UK’s Climate Change Act, isn’t about stifling creativity or out-of-the-box thinking. It’s about transparency and reporting, of course, but it can drive innovation as well. 

Companies that engage and embrace these efforts will gain a competitive advantage as consumers become ever more eco-conscious. In fact, 3 in 4 consumers expect companies­ to take proactive steps to reduce their environmental footprint and to provide transparency about their progress so that they — the end users — can make informed sustainable choices. And what business doesn’t want to be seen as making a net-positive contribution to the UK’s green future?

The Role of Spork

“Sustainability in business is a multi-faceted challenge that requires a multi-faceted solution. By utilising design thinking, Spork ensures the solutions they deliver create the positive paradigm shifts that truly sustainable businesses require.”

Yuxuan Chua, UX Research @ Spork

At Spork, we are committed to making smart, sustainable technology decisions the norm when designing software products that give companies not just a competitive edge but a sustainable competitive edge. 

But we do not see it as something to address only through the very specific lens of a single, specific digital product. We’ve said before that sustainability needs to be taken into consideration up and down the whole technology stack — the processing power required of the server, how much data is moving, how far and what it will take to download. 

 As technology continues to evolve, so too should our approach to sustainability. It’s not just about reducing the negative impact of our current activities but about designing a future where technology and the environment can coexist harmoniously.


The journey towards a sustainable future is complex, challenging, and most of all, crucial. But let’s embrace the challenge and grab the opportunities it presents to innovate, lead, and create a greener future.  At Spork, we’re excited by the prospect and about supporting our clients on the journey with technology decisions that will shape our world for the better.

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