Sustainable Scotland: Eco-friendly tech firm aims to help solve climate crisis – virtually

An innovative tech start-up firm has been working with a major bank and volunteers at a Scottish ‘public good’ organisation to green up a new digital platform for coordinating aid donations for war-hit Ukrainians.

By Ilona Amos
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 4:55 am

GoCodeGreen was set up during lockdown by IT expert Eric Zie, who was looking for a way of measuring and assessing the climate footprint of digital operations and pinpointing how it could be lowered.

He couldn’t find anything to suit his needs, so he invented it – with a mission to remove one million tonnes of actionable greenhouse gas emissions each year.

“That’s what’s driving me,” he said.

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And the first operation he assessed was his own, making sure it was as eco-friendly as possible then offsetting remaining emissions to achieve climate neutrality.

Mr Zie said the carbon footprint of digital operations, applications and software is often underestimated, and taking action to reduce this can make a big difference.

Now, with a team of ‘crowdsourced polyworkers’ operating remotely from across the world, he has just completed a project with NatWest and Scottish Tech Army to cut emissions from their new Donate2Ukraine site, which matches gifts of goods, services and cash to those impacted by the conflict.

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Tech start-up GoCodeGreen was set up during lockdown and is on a mission to remove one million tonnes of actionable greenhouse gases from digital operations each year. Picture: GoCodeGreen

And the platform has achieved GoCodeGreen’s ‘best in class’ rating for its technical build.

“The aspiration to do good at multiple levels all in one software product demonstrated Scottish Tech Army’s pioneering perspective on technology and how tech can be used to combat some of the biggest challenges of our times,” Mr Zie said.

“The fact that they can now demonstrate that their own technical choices have resulted in a clean software product is an example to others.

“It is possible for us all to make a difference.”

Eric Zie, founder and chief executive of GoCodeGreen, has been working with Scottish Tech Army and NatWest to minimise the carbon footprint of a new online platform that matches donations of goods, services and cash to Ukrainians affected by Russia's invasion of their country. Picture: GoCodeGreen

Scottish Tech Army – formed by a group of “techies” on furlough during Covid-19 pandemic to help communities and charities – designed and built the Donate2Ukraine platform after being approached by NatWest, which was responding to a plea for help from the Edinburgh branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.

“It was clear that we needed to do something to help,” said Sheena Hales, programme manager for NatWest Group.

“And we had to do it quickly.

“Our commercial banking CDIO (Conceive, Design, Implement, Operate) team worked with the Scottish Tech Army and built the donation site, and as a result we have supported the delivery of over 100 tonnes of targeted aid back to Ukraine and helped displaced Ukrainians arriving in Scotland with essential items.

“Knowing that the team have built this with sustainability in mind is just such a great example of how working with passionate people who care can make such a difference.”

Joanna Allen, head of programmes for Scottish Tech Army, said: “The urgency to support those most in need was palpable.

“We knew we had the foundations in place, all hosted on cloud, and set about maximising the reuse of as many existing components as possible.”

She added: “The idea of using tech to make a difference and to do it end to end, with sustainability at the core, is a pattern we want to use again and again.”