Code Green: Best Practices for Sustainable Software Development

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sustainable software development

Even climate change deniers are witnessing the effects of the global phenomenon and are going sustainable. As a developer or a business in the tech world, you can also do the same with sustainable software development. It aims to reduce carbon footprint as much as possible.

Sustainable software development involves using renewable energy sources for servers, using more efficient code, and taking other necessary steps to bring down your environmental impact. So, how do you do it?

Best practices you can follow for sustainable software development:

1. Green coding

The principle of green coding is writing software that does more for less. The goal is to write efficient code that can use minimal resources without compromising on functionality or features. Green coding always begins with selecting the right algorithm. Select efficient algorithms that reduce time complexity (how long an algorithm takes to run).

Next, use an efficient data structure that takes up less memory and has a lower time complexity. For instance, switch to a binary search tree instead of a hash table. Since a binary search tree has sorted data, narrowing down searches is quicker and uses fewer resources. Finally, write crisp and clean code to nail down software sustainability. Use code optimization techniques like:

  • Caching
  • Profiling
  • Loop optimization
  • Lazy loading, etc.

2. Select a sustainable programming language

Sustainable development in software engineering often starts with the language you choose. Not all languages are created the same and that’s why it’s important to choose a green one when possible. If you’re curious about it, here’s a list of the greenest programming languages and the list may surprise you.

As it’s evident from the list, compiled languages (get converted to machine code before they are executed) like C are way more efficient compared to interpreted languages (executed line by line) like Python. So, despite its popularity, Python isn’t a great choice for sustainable development. If you’re a business with a keen focus on sustainability, be careful of choosing software development companies that don’t use efficient languages. 

3. Use platforms that use renewable energy

When opting for cloud platforms be careful of your choice. Select providers who have a commitment to sustainability. Major providers like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are making significant commitments to sustainability with:

  • AWS (Amazon Web Services) wants to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2025.
  • On the other hand, Microsoft Azure wants to go carbon negative by 2030. That means they want to remove more carbon than they produce each year after 2030.
  • Google also wants all of its data centers and offices to run carbon-free by 2030

Research into the carbon footprint-reducing initiatives of a cloud provider before choosing their data center.

4. Energy-saving UI

Consider changes in the user interface that make the software more user-friendly and also save energy. For instance, you can choose dark mode as the default option for your app or service. It’s easy on the eyes and makes displays use less energy. If the UI has fluid and easy navigation, the screen doesn’t need to refresh as many times either.

Sustainable software development isn’t a passing trend. It isn’t just great for the environment, but for businesses as well as they end up using less power and server resources that translate to cost savings. Do you have more innovative ideas for sustainable software development? Let us know in the comments. 

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