Trying out a sustainability focussed lean coffee in Berlin

Through being involved in a democracy themed hackday last year, I ended up working at Factory Berlin, and using it as a coworking space. At a sustainability focussed event, I met another member Cherie Birkner of Sustainable Fashion Matterz, and we’re testing out a a lean coffee next week. Read on to find out the when, where, what and how.

What’s lean coffee?

Lean coffee is a format for an event when you have a set of people with a shared interest, and you want introduce some light structure to make it useful for everyone who comes.

I’ve pilfered borrowed the pictures from

The general plan is:

First, rock up, and if you have an idea or question you’d like to discuss under the theme of sustainability, briefly introduce it


Next, vote on the ideas together

Marking the ideas with sticky dots, or a marker is fine.

The idea here is to get an idea from everyone present what’s most relevant or interesting to everyone present.

Then divide the total time by the number of ideas it’s reasonable to discuss

Depending on how long you have, you might restrict the topics so there’s a chance to discuss them in sufficient depth.

Finally, spend the time discussing them

Because you’ve already got some idea of priority, the conversations are most useful to the most people.

Okay, that sounds like I might give it a go. When is it?

Next Wednesday June 6th, at 9am at Factory Berlin, at the Görlitzer campus, until around 10.

This is an experiment, so we’re trying to keep it small, til we know how best to run it, which is why we’re not trying to run it as an official Factory event (I think you need at least 15 people for one of them, and we’re trying to keep it lightweight and easy to manage for now).

It’s also totally okay if you’re just curious and you don’t have a thing you want to talk about yet – we don’t have long, so we won’t be able to discuss everything anyway.

If there’s more interest than we have space for, we’ll organise a follow up event depending.

We started this mainly as a thing to meet other Factory members with similar interests, but if it seems interesting to you, you don’t need to be a member to come along – you can come as an invited guest.

Shoot me an email, or hit me up on twitter @mrchrisadams.

Come along!

Image uploaded from iOS.jpg

See you there!






Quick notes from the UX Book Club Berlin

o, I’ve just come back home from the most recent UX Book Blub Berlin, where we discussed Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries” by Steve Portigal. I got a lot out of the evening, and agreed to share a few links to thing we discussed, but doesn’t let you share comments over a certain length, so I’m posting it here instead.


The first is the online ResearchOps Community (well, slack channel mainly), that Kat, Anja and I are in – it’s online, at:

Kat and I are also organising a workshop on June 22nd, which you can learn more about at the link below:

Here’s the link to where you can sign up

Field Study Handbook


I think it was Franco who also mentioned the field study handbook – a colossal tome that’s considered the final word in immersive research.

It’s what I’d read up on if I ended up doing more of this kind of research. It also carries a formidable price tag of one hundred and twenty five bucks.

More here –

Testessen and speed dating for testing products

I think it was Steve who mentioned Test Essen, a sort of speed dating / user testing event to get quick feedback on products and prototypes. I hadn’t heard of it before. See more below:

Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 23.52.25.png



OMGDPR and research

Finally, I briefly mentioned an unconference called OMGDPR that took place few weeks back.

If there’s interest, I’d be up for organising a small event to chat to other researchers, to get a better idea of how it’s affecting their processes, as:

  1. the law is new
  2. it’s effects are far reaching
  3. there are all kinds of question I have about how it affects how we do research, and I figure it might be useful exploring them with others

Anyway, catch y’all at the next Book club!

How much CO2 can you save when you remove ad-tracking from news sites?

Now that GPDR has landed, we’re seeing companies serving EU specific versions of their site to EU users, which in some cases, serve a user experience which is cleaner, simpler and faster loading.

Some are much smaller over the wire too. So, because moving data uses servers,and those servers use electricity, and that electricity usually comes from burning coal, I’ve had a go at doing some basic calculations to work out what the CO2 reductions might be if these became the norm.

TLDR – For a site like USAtoday, it looks like running the ‘GPDR-lite’ version as the default would represent CO2 emissions savings equivalent to an entire European persons’s annual carbon footprint, each month.

How I arrive at these numbers

I need to stress right at the beginning – these figures I’m about to share are very rough, and I don’t pretend that they’re in any final, accurate form at all.

I’m hoping to share this to help get a better idea for how you might work out the CO2 emissions associated with transferring data in a more rigorous fashion,  but also because I think these emissions are worth discussing, and I can’t find any numbers like this online yet.

First, our smaller site:

Let’s take Hadley’s tweet here – she’s referring to a the EU specific version of the USA Today site, which is about 500kb, compared to the full size, ads and tracking site which weighs in at 5mb site instead:

What kind of energy footprint does this represent? Let’s take a rough estimate of the total daily traffic for the USAToday from EasyCounter (we could use Alexa if we wanted to pay for more accurate traffic results)

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 16.45.50.png

Looking here, we get 3.77 million daily page views.

So, if we wanted an idea of daily bandwidth, we might multiply page size by daily page views.

So, lets take a 5MB page, and multiply it 3.77 million times to represent the page views.

This gives us a figure, that, when we round it to the nearest one hundred gigabytes, is about 18,400 gigabytes of data per day.

How much energy is that?

Now, it’s been really hard to find reliable numbers to convert bandwidth to energy usage when I’ve looked before, but the best freely available figures I’ve found are from work I found via Jonathan Koomey’s blog, where he shares something like this:

This article derives criteria to identify accurate estimates over time and provides a new estimate of 0.06 kWh/GB for 2015. By retroactively applying our criteria to existing studies, we were able to determine that the electricity intensity of data transmission (core and fixed-line access networks) has decreased by half approximately every 2 years since 2000 (for developed countries),

So, this is semi-throwaway blog post and it’s a Sunday, and so for the purposes of getting a ballpark figure, I’m going to cheat and just project forward two years to 2017, and say 2018 is close enough to 2017 for me to use 0.03 kWh/GB.

Okay, how much carbon dioxide is that?

For a ballpark figure like this, we’d take the total energy needed to transfer our 18,400 gigabytes per day, then multiply that by our 0.03 kilowatt hours per gigabyte, then multiply that by the CO2 emissions per kilowatt hour.

Let’s get our CO2 per kilowatt hour figure so we can do this

In the US, where most of the USAToday audience is likely to be, a fair amount of coal is used to generate power, so when I was dumping some numbers into this jupyter notebook, I made a guesstimate figure of 0.45 kilograms of CO2 emitted per kilowatt hour of electricity generated.

After checking it against the emissions index website to check against some actual numbers, it turns out I was off, but not that far off.

Their figure is 432 kilograms per megawatt hour, which is about 0.43 kilograms of CO2 per kilowatt hour.

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 16.56.42.png

I’ve been rounding at each stage here, to make it a bit easier to keep the numbers a bit easier to remember.

However, I’m going to pull the actual number from the jupyter notebook, which when rounded again, gives us 248.5kg of CO2 per day, or a little under 7.5 tonnes per month more or less.

Translating this into something  more tangible

If we had the lighter, GPDR friendly, ad-and-tracking-free version of the site as the norm, if we just looked at the bandwidth savings, then we’d be saving something like the annual carbon footprint of a typical European, according to the World Bank, every month.

Or if you prefer, something like a flight between New York and Chicago every day.

If this is interesting to you, there’s some more in this jupyter notebook on github.

Plug time – the planet friendly web guide

I’m looking for people to work with and explore this kind of stuff with me.


Well, I work in tech, and it seems like loads of our existing tools, and practices can be re-purposed to bring about reductions in CO2 emissions in our industry AND make the digital products we create work better for our users.

If you design infra for services,where you source power, and how you provision your resources, to match your use (i.e. scaling) has an impact.

If you design clients, or apps, then how send data over the wire has an impact (i.e. WPO, et al).

If you design the business model, or how you get feedback from stakeholders, or how you travel to do all this, then decisions you make here have an impact too.

Let’s chat

If this is interesting, please do get in touch, as I’m trying to:

  1. get a free, open source guide together around the subject at
  2. prototype a workshop (one remote, one in Berlin), to help organisations identify where they can make these reductions (and usually, save money or reduce waste along the way)

My contact page lists the usual ways to reach me, and if the guide seems fun, there’s a contributor page there too. T






My talk about a planet friendly web at DataNatives in Berlin last night

So, last night, I did a talk at Big Data Berlin, with the shockingly linkbaity title of Green Clouds in a world of Blockchains and AI.

Rather impressively the video is online already – and you can see it start at 37:01 in the video linked below:

The talk

The talk is online on speakerdeck, like my other talks:

The reception

Generally I was really pleased with the reception here – the audience (a mix of data focussed lot, but also a devs, designers, and biz poeople) was really engaged through the 20 minutes I took to deliver it, and I got laughs at all the places I was hoping.

However, you won’t hear any of them on the video above, as the sound recording seems to be coming from the mike, and it sounds like tumbleweed whenever there’s a pause for people laughing.

Anyway, I hope the content is interesting, and the links are all in the deck linked above.

If the stuff I was talking about interests you

When I find the time, I’m trying to get a guide together, for people who build digital products and services, who want to make them greener. You can see it at, and there a loads of ways you can contribute too – check the contributors page to see.

Also, feel free to drop me a message via the contact page, or leave a comment below.


How much of the web runs on renewables today?

As part of the work I’m doing on the Planet Friendly Web, I’m trying to get access to data that I can base the guide on. In some cases this involves creating datasets from existing data. Here I share some findings from a dataset I generated along the way.

For example, to get a figure on how much of the web runs on renewable power, I started with a dataset of the top 1 million domains by traffic from, then run the list against the Green Web Foundation’s own API, which maintains a list of which domains run on renewable power.

To do this, involves making something like 100k API requests, so I created a screenscraper to carry out the job, and take care of retries, failed requests and so on. You can see it here on github.

I’ve uploaded the dataset created to datbase, partly as an experiment in making it available in a decentralised way, but also partly try out the workflow for publishing data.

So, now we have some data, let’s see what we can do with it, right?

Doing some analysis and some interesting findings

I have an earlier exploration of the data in a notebook on github, but when working with this data, I ‘m bit embarrassed to say I forgot how to use the Dataframe filters to slice the data quickly.

So instead, I’ve used Open Refine. You could probably store this in a Google spreadsheet too, as 100k rows is big, not but THAT big.

Anyway, what do we see?

There’s a few interesting findings just from faceting data like below in Openrefine,  and sorting by count along a few dimensions:

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 12.07.36.png

If you’re not familiar with OpenRefine, I’ll summarise what’s visible in this view:

  • is now more popular than Who knew?
  • The top three websites in the world run on renewable power. Huzzah!
  • Based on the greenweb foundation’s data, around 7% of the web the most popular domains on the net run on renewable power.
  • Hetzner AG, a German hosting company hosts more domains running on green power than Google does.
  • Amazon doesn’t appear here at all as a green provider.

After a slow start, I understood Amazon to be a HUGE player here, and while they have a nice shiny page showing off their windfarms and how much renewable power they use , they also run a load of their servers on coal. That they don’t appear may be an artefact of the Green Web Foundation going by an organisation’s entire power mix, to decide whether a company is running on green power or not.

I think need to check with Rene at the Green Web Foundation to see.

Fancy playing too? Come hang out on slack

This shows some pretty superficial analysis, but there’s already some interesting nuggets here.

If working with this data sounds interesting to you, let me know in the comments – I’m looking for collaborators on the Planet Friendly Web Guide.

Alternatively, come hang out in the slack channel, where there’s a nice little community growing around sustainable web design.

If you prefer email

It turns out there’s a W3C Sustainable web design group. Here’s my post to the mailing list, if you’d prefer to communicate there via email.



I’m hosting the Mozilla Global Sprints in Berlin in May – come along!

I’m helping host the Berlin Mozilla Global Sprint next week – it’s a two day event, set aside to create the space to make it easy to volunteer on existing open source projects, aligned with the key Mozilla’s key Internet Health issues, outlined in their recently published Internet Health Report.

More specifically, these issues, taken from the report are:

WEB LITERACY: Projects that teach individuals skills to shape — and not simply consume — the web.

OPENNESS: Projects that keep the web transparent and understandable, allow anyone to invent online without asking permission, and encourage thoughtful sharing and reuse of data, code, and ideas.

PRIVACY & SECURITY: Projects that illuminate what happens to our personal data online, and how to make the Internet safer for all.

DIGITAL INCLUSION: Projects that ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to access the Internet, and can use it to improve their lives and societies.

DECENTRALIZATION: Projects that protect and secure an Internet controlled by many, so that no one actor can own it or control it or switch it off.

Oh neat, these are things I’m totally in favour of. What projects are there?

There’s a load of open source projects you can hack on listed at Mozilla’s Pulse page. But to be honest, as long as you’re working on a project that addresses the issues listed above, you’ll be welcome.

If you’re feeling particularly generous, and heroic

I’m looking for some help on a project called the Planet Friendly Web Guide, which I was working on last earlier last year, as part of the Mozilla Open Web Leader programme.

I presented it at SustainableUX, and if you’re visually inclined, you can see the deck below I that I used:

I’m looking for help in a bunch of ways, but the simplest way to see where you can help is to visit this contributing page on the guide.

In particular, I’m looking for help building some fun little widgets to let people get a quick idea of the carbon footprint of the infrastructure used to serve sites they use or build, based on the general platform, packets, process model, to see if it’s easy to apply for someone who hasn’t been working on the project like I have.

Come, and hack on something nice

So, to recap, the deal is basically:

  • turn up
  • hack on a thing that largely agrees with the principles outlined in Mozilla’s 5 key issues
  • be fed at lunchtime as a token of appreciation if you’re giving your time to make the web a better place

There’s a lot more about the whole idea of Mozilla’s global sprints on their dedicated site.

You can sign up here on the registration site.

Wait two whole days? In this weather?

It’s also totally cool to drop by for just part of the two day period – understandable if you just want to spend a bit of time on a project, before getting out and enjoying the wonderful Berlin summer weather.

You in?