Sustainability-in-Tech : Green Code To Reduce Software Emissions

Cloud-based CRM company Salesforce has announced the launch of its ‘Green Code,’ a new initiative which it says will help reduce carbon emissions associated with the software development lifecycle.  

The Software Development Lifecycle Carbon Emissions Problem 

The Green Code has been developed to tackle the environmental impact caused by the process of developing, deploying, and maintaining software applications. For example, this impact comes from the energy consumption of the servers and other computing equipment used during these activities, as well as from the manufacturing and disposal of this equipment. Software development involves a range of activities, including designing, coding, testing, and deployment and each of these stages requires computing power and energy, which can result in significant carbon emissions e.g., running servers and data centres requires large amounts of electricity, which in turn generates greenhouse gas emissions, and disposing of e-waste can require carbon-emitting requires energy and resources as well as contributing to environmental pollution and health hazards.  

The IT Sector Emissions 

As highlighted by Salesforce, the IT sector is responsible for up to 3.9 per cent of global emissions (almost as much as the airline and shipping industries) with these emissions expected to rise as organisations increasingly rely on software to drive their operations and accelerate their digital transformation.  

Salesforce’s own research shows that although the IT sector is a major carbon producer,75 per cent of technologists want to develop software applications that do less harm to the environment, but nearly half simply don’t know how. 

What Is The Green Code? 

The Green Code initiative is a set of new sustainability best practices to help anyone from UX designers and software developers to system architects and IT operations managers to work towards net zero. The idea is that offering practical recommendations for designing apps and writing code that have less of an impact on the environment is a powerful leverage point that remains largely untapped and could help make a significant impact toward decarbonisation. 

Four Key Areas 

The Green Code focuses on the four key areas of: 

– Design & UX: Helping designers to reduce energy use while providing a better user experience by making sustainability a design requirement. 

– Architecture: Helping software architects to choose an architectural pattern and deployment model for software development that leads to cost savings and reduces environmental impact. 

– Development: Helping to develop sustainable code I.e., software code that uses less energy, leading to significant emissions reductions, particularly when deployed at scale.  

– Operations: Focusing on e.g., locating capacity in the right regions and scheduling workloads during high renewable energy periods can help companies can reduce their carbon emissions.  

The Importance Of Leveraging Green Code Best Practices  

Suzanne DiBianca, EVP, and Chief Impact Officer at Salesforce points out that, “By leveraging these ‘green code’ best practices, technologists and organisations can approach the challenge of sustainability in IT to drive meaningful efficiencies and cost savings across their IT enterprises while accelerating their sustainability journeys.” 

Srinivas Tallapragada, President, and Chief Engineering Officer at Salesforce said, “With Green Code, we’re hoping to inspire software teams and the entire IT sector to prioritise sustainability, just as they do performance, security, and accessibility.” 

What Does This Mean For Your Organisation? 

Salesforce makes the point that minor changes can translate into big impacts for a company’s carbon footprint and that it looks, from their research, as though most technologists want to develop software applications that do less harm to the environment, but they lack any guidance on how to do so. Producing these ‘Green Code’ best practices, therefore, is a way to help make a positive difference in what has thus far been a relatively untapped and overlooked but crucial area. For businesses and organisations in the IT sector, following these best practices could help them on the road to sustainability and if widely adopted could be one way to help the IT sector to become less of a carbon emissions producer. 

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