In our series of recent articles, we discussed the use of technology for sustainable development and how it propels the advancement of GreenTech. But there is the other side of the coin — the actual impact of digital technologies on the environment.

With data centers consuming a staggering 2% of the world’s electricity and the ICT sector potentially responsible for 14% of the global carbon footprint by 2040, it’s evident that sustainability in tech is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed.

But is ‘green programming’ yet another buzzword? In this post, we’ll explore the principles of sustainable software development and how they can be applied to build next-generation digital products that are good for us and our planet.

What is sustainable software development?

Adopting a sustainable approach to software design involves considering and minimizing the environmental effects of software development at all its lifecycle stages. How? For example, optimizing code to reduce energy consumption, using more efficient hardware, and opting for energy-efficient data centers.

In addition to taking an environmentally conscious approach, sustainable software development offers tangible benefits to the customer. For instance, less downtime and quicker updates, as core-level changes to sustainable software can be implemented faster, leading to better overall performance and lower application ownership costs. As a result, companies can react to shifting consumer and market demands more quickly, increasing their agility and competitive edge.

The green software framework can be divided into several impact areas.

Priority areaSustainable software practices
Software development lifecycleCarbon-efficient software results from multiple factors — from selecting energy-efficient programming languages and platforms to “green” architecture design and DevOps. For example, interpreted languages consume 48x times more energy than compiled ones.
UI/UXPractice of developing a user-friendly digital experience with efficient accessibility and performance optimization (e.g., easier navigation, modifying UI to support dark mode, compressing content and images).
Artificial intelligenceWith a responsible target accuracy of the AI/ML models (e.g., repurposing existing models for other tasks), their carbon efficiency can be cut by up to 80%.
Cloud and dataCloud migrations, application development on the cloud for hardware and energy efficiency, and implementation of edge computing can further save project emissions. Efficient data processing involves eliminating storage waste, data compression, improving the utilization of networks, data transmission, workload management, and more.
Distributed ledger technologyEnergy-efficient DLT algorithms and blockchain technology can positively impact emissions (consensus algorithm, compression strategy, increased transaction frequency, and network design are some examples).
IT infrastructureDriving responsible procurement and end-of-life management of end-user devices, network components, and data center equipment by considering usage and lifecycle emissions and managing electronic waste to ensure green computing.
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Following the principles of green computing

Green computing, or green software engineering, is an emerging discipline that synthesizes the knowledge of climate science, software design, electricity markets, hardware, and data center design. In a nutshell, the principles of green programming form a set of essential skills needed to create and maintain environmentally-friendly software. They apply to all industries, domains, organizations, programming languages, and frameworks. By mastering them, green software engineers can reduce the carbon footprint of their applications.

Principles of sustainable software development

Building a sustainable product roadmap

Consider the following factors to develop a comprehensive and environmentally friendly roadmap; we recommend using them as a framework for your team to make coordinated decisions during all product lifecycle stages.

  • Environmental impact. At this stage, remember to pay attention to emission reduction compared to other approaches, incorporating energy-efficient strategies in product development, using materials or their alternatives with sustainable sources of origin, implementing sustainable strategies in supply chains, and refining the “green” aspect of your processes over time.
  • Stakeholders. Engaging stakeholders is vital for sustainable development, as it helps owners maximize positive impact by meeting the expectations of all interest groups, including investors, team members, and end-users.

“It is important to carefully research and understand your target audience’s needs and preferences and to design the app with those users in mind. It may involve conducting user research, gathering feedback, and iterating on the design to ensure that the app is
intuitive and easy to use. Also, consider the technical requirements, including the necessary hardware and software platforms, and any regulatory or compliance issues you may need to address.”

Ivan Litovchenko, Tech Lead at Beetroot Delivery Cluster

  • Sustainability strategies. Regular team meetings are a great way to keep the team informed on the end goals and to integrate sustainability into the development process. You can also use sustainability reports and drive close cooperation with partners, suppliers, and third parties to exchange and enhance sustainable practices and strategies.
  • Measuring success. Last but not least, create specific and measurable goals in your roadmap, including realistic timelines. Be prepared to adjust, reset, and reevaluate these goals to keep better control of deliverables and stay agile to ensure sustainability success.

Engaging like-minded tech partners

As the GreenTech sector expands by leaps and bounds, companies seek to secure strategic partnerships to overcome talent gaps and scaling hurdles. Here are some key points to keep in mind when selecting a technology partner to support your growth.

Collaboration model and scalability

Remote augmentation, or team extension (Dedicated Team), is a favored collaboration model for expanding teams. In this case, software development agencies hire a specific number of remote developers who will become a natural extension of your in-house team while working in your tech partner’s office and under their administrative wing. Likely, they will offer even more flexible team options should you want to test the waters before committing long-term or need a faster tech solution.

Relevant domain expertise

Evaluating their developer standards, tech expertise, and cross-domain competencies is critical when shortlisting candidates. It is best to establish the scope of their experience early in the discovery process. Aside from mining customer reviews, it’s also worth browsing through their social media — the profiles of the company’s executives and key employees.

Approach towards sustainability

Great minds think alike, and great impactful companies should work together. When selecting a company, consider its mission and sustainability efforts as essential factors: shared values and mission alignment prove to work well for both business and positive impact objectives.

“For GreenTech startups, finding the right tech consulting and development partner is often a matter of survival. Consulting services, team offerings, pricing, transparency, and other factors need to be considered during the shortlisting process. Beetroot builds sustainable teams and flexible tech solutions in Europe that impact your business — and the world.”

Natalia Piantkovska, Business Analyst at Beetroot Delivery Cluster

Driven by a mission to create sustainable social, economic, and environmental impact at scale, we understand GreenTech companies like no other. Just drop us a line — and let’s find a scaling formula that is right for you and your project.

Find out how we can help extend your tech team for sustainable growth.

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