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Software Development For Long-lasting Sustainable Solutions

Danny Provost
26 Jul 2023

Numerous studies have emphasized that climate change is expanding, accelerating, and escalating to an extent that some changes are already irreversible. The United Nations has declared it a “code red for humanity,” and averting a calamity will only be possible if the world takes prompt action. Predictably, investments in digital transformation are set to increase by 50% from 2022-2025, leading to a further surge in energy consumption. The increasing digitalization has made it apparent that software applications are also leaving a significant impact on the environment.

At the same time though digital solutions are expected to help having the right insights to decrease footprint: Fifteen digital technologies are set to reduce C02 by 5 times than the total digital emissions by 2030 | Agoria and Digital technologies can cut global emissions by 20%. Here’s how | World Economic Forum (

The fast-paced development of international standards and disclosure regulations related to sustainability, coupled with mounting expectations from multiple stakeholders such as customers, investors, regulators, and employees, is putting immense pressure on businesses to invest in sustainability. Consequently, sustainability has now become one of the top ten business priorities for CEOs, according to the 2021 Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey. As an example, France has initiated the implementation of a distinct green software legislation that will mandate companies to disclose the environmental cost of their products to both users and the government. This legislation is expected to come into effect shortly.

Sustainability – Some Facts and Figures

  • In a recent survey from IDC 83% of respondents agree sustainability is the most important criteria in IT buying decisions. Cloud computing hereby is a major differentiator when it comes to sustainability compared to traditional on-premises infrastructure.

Sustainability is one of the hottest topics in IT currently

Even though there have been ongoing discussions regarding the environmental impact of IT, including data centers and public clouds, the conversation about the contribution of software, rather than hardware, to the sustainability of the IT industry is relatively recent.

However, it is crucial to note that software systems also emit carbon emissions indirectly through the energy consumed by the physical hardware they run on.

Greening of software

According to the Green Software Foundation, green software refers to software that produces minimal greenhouse gas emissions. To decrease the carbon footprint of software, the primary measures to be taken are

  • using fewer physical resources
  • reducing energy consumption,
  • and utilizing lower-carbon energy sources.

It’s likely that several developers don’t consider the carbon footprint or energy usage of the code they create. However, the reality is that software significantly influences energy consumption and consequently, environmental sustainability. Nonetheless, sustainable software development is expected to become an increasingly prominent topic in the future as companies search for approaches to become more eco-friendly at every layer of the technology stack, including software development and not just hardware.

The majority of hyperscalers have managed to optimize their hardware and reduce energy consumption, despite significant growth in computational demands within their datacenters. However, due to ongoing concerns about energy consumption, it is important for us to examine the software applications being run on this hardware. Every developer has a role to play in addressing climate change by implementing best practices in Sustainable Software Engineering.

“The way we design and build our applications has a direct relationship to how much carbon they emit. With a better understanding of the impact our application designs have on the environment, we can make choices which have a more positive impact on the planet.”

— Paul McEwen, Global Head of Technology Services for UBS

(*) Quoted from (article licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0))  

Sustainable Software Engineering

Microsoft has recognized ‘Sustainable Software Engineering’, also referred to as Green Software Engineering, as an emerging discipline, and rightly so. This practice is just one aspect of sustainability in IT. The Principles of Sustainable Software Engineering encompass a fundamental set of skills required to create, develop, and maintain sustainable software applications. These applications aim to minimize greenhouse gas emissions while delivering the same level of business value and generating a positive impact on the environment.

There are many advantages to building sustainable applications

  • They are almost always cheaper to run
  • They are often more performant
  • They are often more optimized

The Sustainability Workload Documentation by Microsoft would be a nice guideline on how businesses worldwide can plan their sustainability priorities in the future.

In follow-on blogs in this series, I’ll talk more about how developers can contribute to a greener environment by applying above principles.


Danny Provost

Move to Cloud Leader, Cloud & Custom Applications (C&CA)
Danny has more than 30 years of experience in IT Solutions and worked for many clients across the globe. He has a keen interest in Cloud Technology. In his role he helps organizations transition to cloud-based solutions to empower them to innovate, scale, and operate more efficiently in today’s digital landscape.