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What Is Green Software Development and Maintenance? 10 Things to Know

November 3, 2023 by Joe Panettieri

There is growing buzz about the "greening" of software development and code maintenance. But what exactly does the trend involve? The short answer: Building green software involves improving efficiencies across the development, deployment, usage and maintenance stages, according to the Green Software Foundation.

Want to dig a little deeper? Based on Green Software Foundation research, here are 10 things to know about green software development and maintenance practices, potential business and environmental benefits, and the challenges facing the overall movement.

Green Software Foundation

1. Software Developers Are Concerned: 62% of software practitioners are "very concerned" about climate change, and 30% are "concerned" about climate change. But only 26% of developers say green software is part of their official role.

2. Software Developers Aren't Necessarily Green Experts: Only 14% of developers are very familiar with green software; 54% are somewhat familiar and 33% have no familiarity.

3. Getting Involved: 30% of developers are interested and involved with other sustainability practices in the workplace, while 61% are interested but not yet involved.

4. Measuring Software's Environmental Impact: Only 16% of developers say their organizations always measure the environmental impact of software; 49% say that sometimes happens; and 35% say that never happens.

5. Green Programming Best Practices: Developers leverage these principles in their development projects:

  • Minimize the amount of data my software sends/receives: 45%
  • Maximize hardware utilization rates: 35%
  • Create software that is energy efficient: 25%
  • Create software that can run on older devices and older hardware: 21%
  • Optimize code by measuring energy consumption and carbon footprint: 16%
  • Create software that is carbon efficient: 11%
  • Create carbon-aware software that shifts workloads to times and locations with clean energy supplies: 8%
  • Other steps: 23%

6. Training Adoption Is Low: Have you ever taken green software training?

  • Not interested: 3%
  • Never heard of it: 33%
  • Interested but never taken such training: 55%
  • Yes: 8%

7. Standards and Best Practices: Formalized standards for green software are emerging.

8. Business Benefits: There is a business case for making software greener. Among the proof points: Accenture’s 2022 report on Uniting Tech and Sustainability finds that businesses that have integrated their IT Strategy with their sustainability and business strategy far outperform their competitors in total shareholder value, GSF noted.

9. Most Customers Don't Fear Premium Costs: According to a poll conducted by GSF Executive Director Asim Hussain, 72% of software practitioners would be willing to pay more for cloud computing services that are Net-Zero and powered by 100% carbon-free energy (CFE). Specifically:

  • 23% said they would pay 5% more;
  • 28% would pay 10% more; and
  • 18% would pay 25% more.

10. Compliance Mandates Are Coming: In 2024, the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive will require businesses to track their environmental data. On a related note, 43% of developers think regulations will be the top driver for the greening of software, followed by revenue opportunities (27%), standards (21%) and certification (10%).

Share Your Story: If your team or company has implemented green software development practices, please share your story with us. What worked, what failed and what corrective steps are course corrections are you making? Send details to Editorial Director Joe Panettieri for potential coverage on Sustainable Tech Partner.

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