Green Software Design Culture at Carboledger

Green Software Design Culture at Carboledger

Published on April 12, 2024

The global climate crisis has spurred businesses across industries to prioritize emissions reduction strategies. As a result, the demand for technologies that support these efforts has skyrocketed. But what if the very technology designed to help us becomes part of the problem?

The truth is, rapid digitalization has a hidden cost: increased energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As per the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) statistics, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector’s contribution to global CO2 emissions is estimated to be at least 1.7% and potentially as high as 4%.

However, there’s a silver lining. Information technology, encompassing hardware, software, and communication systems, holds immense potential to be a solution, not a contributor, to the climate crisis. The Global e-Sustainability Initiative highlights this by suggesting IT solutions can cut nearly 10 times more CO2 than they emit through the greening of IT, or, simply put, implementing “Green IT” strategies.

At Carboledger, we believe software can be a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change. In this blog series, we’ll delve into the green software practices we implement to minimize our environmental impact and empower our users to do the same.

Green IT

Green IT is an umbrella term encompassing environmentally sound practices across the entire IT landscape—hardware, software, systems, applications, and user behavior. This comprehensive approach breaks down into three key areas:

  1. Greening of IT: This introspective approach focuses on optimizing IT products and processes for environmental benefit. Here, the goal is to improve energy efficiency, maximize resource utilization, minimize carbon footprints, and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
  2. Greening by IT: This outward-looking perspective leverages IT as a tool for sustainability across various sectors. Imagine IT solutions empowering industries like manufacturing, energy, and agriculture to reduce emissions and resource consumption while still fostering growth. This is the essence of greening by IT.
  3. Promoting Green Awareness: Many individuals remain unaware of the severity of the climate crisis and lack the motivation to take action. IT has a unique power to bridge this gap by promoting environmental awareness, fostering informed decision-making, and engaging the public in the fight against climate change.

Over the years, much emphasis and progress have been made towards making IT hardware efficient and environmentally friendly. But, to realize the fuller benefits, we need to take our green initiatives down to the software. There are two broad ways of looking at software: software as part of the climate problem and software as part of the climate solution. Building green software and doing it to scale requires the creation of a trusted ecosystem of people, standards, tools, and best practices.

Carboledger's Approach to Green Software

Green software practices at Carboledger

At Carboledger, our commitment to sustainability shapes not only the ethos but also the very architecture of our software development practices. We’ve taken significant strides to integrate Google’s Go Green guide and principles laid out by the Green Software Foundation into our processes, emphasizing efficiency and innovation to minimize our environmental footprint.

Our commitment to providing digital solutions to reduce emissions for our customers also gives us an opportunity to conduct our business in a responsible way. As a step towards helping the software industry create sustainable solutions, we are proud to provide an inside look into our software practices and the conscious decisions we take for software code written by our team.

An Overview of Green Software Principles

Overview of green software principles

Green software is a rapidly evolving field that sits at the crossroads of climate science, software design, energy markets, hardware considerations, and even data center design. At its core, green software is designed to minimize its carbon footprint. This approach focuses on three key areas:

  1. Energy Efficiency: Optimizing software to use less energy throughout its lifecycle translates to reduced emissions.
  2. Carbon Awareness: Understanding when and how software is used allows for adjustments that minimize carbon impact. Imagine scheduling data processing for times when the electricity grid relies more on renewable sources.
  3. Hardware Efficiency: Leveraging hardware that is inherently energy-efficient complements the software’s own optimization efforts.

In 2019, the initial eight principles of green software engineering were established. These principles have been refined over time, with the 2022 update streamlining some principles and introducing a new one focused on understanding climate commitments.

What are the six green software principles?

Principle 1: Carbon efficiency

Carbon efficiency

“Emit the least amount of carbon possible.”

Everything we do emits carbon into the atmosphere, and this constitutes the first principle of green software: carbon efficiency, emitting the least amount of carbon possible per unit of work*.* In the software space, building carbon-efficient applications takes centre stage for climate solutions. Being carbon-efficient is about building applications that add the same value for you or your users but emit less carbon.

Principle 2: Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency

“Use the least amount of energy possible.”

The second principle urges using the least amount of energy possible. Green software takes responsibility for an application’s electricity consumption and is designed to consume as little as possible. Understanding how to quantify the energy consumption of an application and the energy proportionality factor gives green software practitioners insights into the application’s energy consumption behaviour.

Principle 3: Carbon Awareness

Carbon Awareness

“Do more when the electricity is cleaner, and do less when the electricity is dirtier”.

The third principle promotes shifting energy-intensive activities to times when the electricity grid is powered by cleaner sources. This way, you can leverage your growing awareness of carbon footprint to minimize your impact during peak hours when the grid relies more on high-carbon sources. The key concepts that this principle covers on how to be more carbon-aware include carbon intensity, variability of carbon intensity, dispatchability & curtailment, marginal carbon intensity and energy markets

Principle 4: Hardware Efficiency

Hardware Efficiency

“Use the least amount of embodied carbon possible.”

The fourth principle emphasizes minimizing the embodied carbon footprint of hardware used in software development. Embodied carbon refers to the total carbon emissions associated with a device’s entire lifecycle, encompassing its creation, use, and eventual disposal. When calculating a software product’s total carbon footprint, it’s crucial to consider both the operational carbon emissions generated during its use and the embodied carbon associated with the hardware employed in its development.

Principle 5: Measurement

Measurement

“What you can’t measure, you can’t improve.”

The fifth principle emphasizes the importance of precise carbon footprint measurement for software. This entails determining the specific emission category associated with the software and selecting the most appropriate metrics to quantify its emissions. The Software Carbon Intensity (SCI) specification, developed by the Green Software Foundation’s Standards Working Group, serves as a sustainability score for software applications, prompting action towards emission reduction. Unlike total emissions figures, the SCI is a metric specifically designed to calculate emissions as a rate, providing a more nuanced understanding of a software’s environmental impact.

Climate Commitments

“Understand the exact mechanism of carbon reduction.”

The sixth principle underscores the importance of acquiring a thorough understanding of carbon reduction mechanisms. This includes gaining a working knowledge of various methodologies, such as carbon elimination/abatement, avoidance/offsetting, and removal/neutralization. Additionally, this principle emphasizes the need to comprehend the spectrum of climate reduction strategies available to organizations, ranging from achieving carbon neutrality to net zero emissions. By grasping the distinct meanings and implications of each approach, organizations can make informed decisions and select the most suitable strategy for their specific circumstances.

Who can be a green software practitioner?

Who can be a green software practitioner

To translate these principles into actionable steps, green software patterns have been developed. These patterns are blueprints for software practitioners to incorporate green principles into their everyday work. Importantly, these patterns are designed to be vendor-neutral, ensuring broad applicability. Through green software practices, green software patterns are applied to specific software products, providing practical guidance on using existing software solutions more sustainably. Therefore, these green software practices can be put into action by practitioners like:

  • Developers
  • Dev Ops
  • Testers
  • Architects
  • SREs
  • Product Managers
  • UX Designers

Carboledger’s practices for Green Software Design

Green software practices at Carboledger are guided by the principles of Green Software Foundation and Google’s Go Green guide for developers and architects. Our commitment to sustainability extends throughout the development lifecycle, ingrained in the mindset of our developers. We take a proactive approach to sustainability, incorporating it into every stage of development.

  1. Leveraging AWS Graviton Processors: A cornerstone of our commitment to green practices is our use of AWS Graviton processors for our EC2 instances. These processors are optimized for performance and use up to 60% less energy than comparable EC2 instances, providing the computational power we need while minimizing our carbon footprint.
  2. Resource Scheduling for Development and Testing: Resource scheduling plays a pivotal role in our green software practices. We employ advanced scheduling techniques to allocate development and testing resources dynamically. This means resources are only used when necessary, avoiding idle compute time and thus conserving energy.
  3. Removing Unused Code: Regularly pruning unused or redundant code not only keeps our codebase clean but also enhances application performance. This practice reduces the workload on servers, lowering the energy consumption required for running and maintaining our applications.
  4. Reducing Library Overhead: We meticulously evaluate and optimize the libraries and frameworks used in our projects to ensure they don’t add unnecessary bloat or processing overhead. By selecting efficient, lightweight libraries, we minimize the computational resources needed, further contributing to our green initiatives.
  5. Maintaining Optimized Code: Throughout the application lifecycle, we emphasize maintaining optimized, clean code. Continuous refactoring and performance optimization ensure that our applications remain efficient and eco-friendly, reducing the computational power required for operation.

Our current developments

Quote from our CTO Nikha Garg

Carboledger views sustainability as a journey and transition phase, and we have more exciting initiatives in the pipeline as we continue to invest in creating a sustainable solution for our partners. One of the first step in this direction for Carboledger is to implement SCI (Software Carbon Intensity API) to provide comprehensive reports on carbon emissions due to software usage by our partner. We believe this data will become crucial for Carboledger and our partners to engage and work together to reduce their carbon footprint.

  • Integrating tracking tools: We’re actively exploring the integration of tools that track the carbon footprint of our software projects. This data-driven approach will allow us to pinpoint areas for improvement and make impactful decisions to minimize our environmental impact.
  • Energy efficiency in development: Our R&D team is dedicated to developing and implementing algorithms that prioritize energy efficiency within our software, without sacrificing performance. This ensures a balance between functionality and environmental responsibility.
  • Green data centres: We’re committed to utilizing environmentally friendly data centers powered by renewable energy sources. This ensures our operations minimize reliance on traditional energy sources with higher carbon footprints.
  • Employee awareness: We recognize the importance of an empowered workforce. Employee training and awareness programs will equip our team members with the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to a more sustainable future.
  • Green software certification: Achieving a Green Software certification is a key objective for Carboledger. This certification demonstrates our dedication to environmentally responsible software development practices and sets a high bar for the industry.
  • SCI for Emissions Measurement: We’re committed to transparent measurement of our impact. We plan to utilize the Software Carbon Intensity (SCI) for specific measurement of emissions associated with our operations. This allows us to provide detailed reports to our customers, fostering trust and accountability.
  • Continuous Improvement: We are a company built on continuous improvement. We remain dedicated to constantly evolving our practices to better serve our customers and the environment.

We are continuously improving

This commitment to sustainability is core to our mission at Carboledger. We believe in empowering businesses with the tools and insights necessary to create a greener future, and we’re dedicated to leading by example. Curious to join the Carboledger Engineering team? Learn more about our culture and open roles

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