What Does Sustainability Mean In Software Development?

Sustainable software engineering or sustainable software development is a software that is designed, developed and implemented to limit energy consumption and have minimal environmental impact.

Today, software is extensively used by all of us for commercial and noncommercial purposes. While not a new concept overall, sustainable engineering has experienced a renewed interest with the current climate crisis in the world.

Principles Of Green Software:

Following are the set of concepts that software engineers should follow when they’re designing, building and deploying sustainable software applications.

  • Carbon-Developers should build software that offers value to users, while producing fewer carbon emissions.
  • Electricity-Energy-efficient applications use software components that don’t consume much energy.
  • Carbon intensity – Intensity refers to the amount of carbon emissions that is generated for every kilowatt per hour of electricity that’s used. Companies should consume as much as electricity as possible from renewable energy sources, which have lower carbon intensity.
  • Embodied, or embedded, carbon. Embodied carbon is how much carbon is released when companies develop and dispose of electronic devices. This principle calls for organizations to build software that reduces the amount of carbon that’s released when they develop and dispose of electronic devices.
  • Energy proportionality. Energy proportionality is the relationship between how much a device is used and the electricity the device uses. The more someone uses a device, the better it can convert electricity. The goal of this principle is to maximize the energy efficiency of the hardware by ensuring a high rate of utilization.

Technical sustainability covers the direct decisions we make for the system to produce its desired results. This includes both hardware decisions (CPUs, Memory, Networks) and software decisions (language, architecture, complexity) as well as things like latency in the system, testing requirements, or the scale up/out requirements. You can loosely think of this as “traditional” software engineering.

Environmental sustainability focuses on the impact a system has on the ecology of the planet.

  • How is power generated for the data center? (coal vs hydro power)
  • How often is hardware replaced or recycled? (minimize waste generation)
  • How much cooling is needed to keep machines at an optimal temperature? (water consumption)

Benefits Of Green Software:

There are business benefits, as well as environmental benefits, to green software, including the following:

  • Less complicated architecture. Since the structure of green software typically has fewer inter dependencies, green software systems are usually less complicated and, therefore, use less energy.
  • Faster computing speed. Less complicated software tends to be faster.
  • Cost savings. Green applications use less energy, meaning lower energy costs.
  • Brand loyalty. Today, most consumers gravitate toward companies with sustainable business practices and green products. Organizations that support environmental issues and reduce their carbon footprint by developing and/or using green software can build brand loyalty. Investors are taking note, investing in companies using strategies such as environmental, social and governance.

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