A Systematic Literature Review of the Factors of Influence on the Environmental Impact of ICT

A.C. Hankel, Gaston Heimeriks, Patricia Lago

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Abstract: Context: Many publications have described, measured, tracked or assessed Information
and Communication Technology (ICT) activities that impact the environment. A complete conceptual
view of the environmental impact of ICT can be described in three orders of effect: Direct, indirect
and systemic. Objective: The goal of this study is to find out how the existing literature contributes
towards our understanding of the environmental impact of ICT. We approach this question by
identifying factors that can be of influence on the environmental impact and map these factors onto a
conceptual framework of Green ICT. Method: We used a systematic literature review to collect factors
of influence regarding the environmental impact of ICT. Results: From the data we collected and the
analyses made, we created a taxonomy, and report on the frequencies of the factors of influence in the
primary studies as well as gaps and additions compared to the conceptual framework. We found
five main classes of influence that can form a continuous cycle, but noted that the research field is
strongly focused on the direct impact of ICT. Conclusion: Our study contributes towards a better
understanding of the environmental impact of ICT by framing factors of influence in a conceptual
framework. The taxonomy we create and the analysis of the studies could be helpful in defining
a research agenda, to further enable the full potential of Green ICT. In addition, the taxonomy can
be used as a starting point for a practical tool, for organizations that wish to apply Green ICT to its
full extent.
Original languageEnglish
Article number85
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2018


  • Green ICT
  • Green IS
  • factors of Influence
  • environmental impact
  • metrics
  • indicators
  • systematic literature review
  • sustainability
  • Green IT

VU Research Profile

  • Connected World
  • Science for Sustainability


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