What is Green software?

Posted on August 3rd, 2021 by Asim Hussain

Creating a trusted ecosystem of people, standards, tooling, and best practices for building green software.

What is Green 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, tooling and best practices. The mission of Green Software Foundation is exactly that.

Carbon

We want software to become part of the climate solution, rather than be part of the climate problem. This is why we are focusing on reducing the negative impacts of software on our climate by reducing the carbon emissions that software is responsible for emitting.

Software can also be an enabler of climate solutions. Software can be built to help accelerate decarbonization across all sectors in industry and society. We need people and organizations to focus on both aspects: of making green software and green-enabling software. But our primary focus is on creating an ecosystem for developing green software.

The Green Software Foundation is a non-profit and has been created for the people who are in the business of building software. We are tasked with giving them answers about what they can do to reduce the software emissions they are responsible for.

Reduction

Our focus is reduction, not neutralization. One gram of carbon not emitted into our atmosphere is not the same as one gram of carbon that has been offset. By far the more preferable goal is to never have emitted the carbon in the first place.

Reduction is more challenging than offsetting. It entails more risk and more investment. To mitigate that risk and incentive investment into reduction, we need to grow an ecosystem of people, standards, tooling, and best practices for the reduction of carbon emissions of software. The Foundation's mission is to nurture that ecosystem.

Action

Our view is that there are only three actions that reduce the carbon emissions of software:

  • Using less physical resources

  • Using less energy

  • Using energy more intelligently

Using energy more intelligently means either consuming lower-carbon sources of energy or consuming electricity in a way that helps accelerate the energy transition towards a low carbon future.

Everything that you can do that reduces the carbon emissions of software falls into one or more of the above categories. The Foundation's mission is to encourage more of these actions to be taken across the software industry.

This article is licenced under Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0)


Asim Hussain
Asim HussainChairperson