Green coding and sustainability in software

On this page
  1. What is green coding?
  2. Computing’s high energy consumption
  3. Making more environmentally friendly software
  4. Options for design and code
  5. Benefits of green coding
  6. Green coding and SiteLint

What is green coding?

Green coding is a term that has lately gained popularity due to its environmental aims, and it refers to energy-efficient hardware usage and programming code that is created to produce algorithms with minimal energy usage.

In an era of climate change and rising pollution, it is more crucial than ever to reduce our ecological impact and live more sustainably. This also applies to software development, which often requires a significant amount of energy and resources. Software companies can not only contribute to environmental protection by using green coding, but they can also lower their energy costs and boost their reputation as an ecologically responsible organisation.

Computing’s high energy consumption

Annual energy use at data centres has more than doubled in the last decade, according to the Association for Computing Machinery. Computing and information technology now account for between 1.8% and 3.9% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

To completely comprehend how green coding might minimise energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, it is necessary to first examine software’s energy consumption:

  • Processing. As it runs, the software consumes energy. The more complex the software or the larger the file, the longer it takes to process and the more energy it consumes.
  • DevOps. Developers often create lines of code that are parsed and processed by a device during the coding process. The device requires energy, which produces carbon emissions unless powered entirely by renewable energy. The more code the device must process, the more energy it consumes and the higher the level of emissions.
  • Infrastructure. Physical hardware, networks, and other components of an IT system all require power for operation. There are certainly locations inside any organisation where the computing infrastructure is overly complex or over-provisioned, resulting in inefficient energy use.

Making more environmentally friendly software

Green coding starts with the same concepts as traditional coding. Software engineers can incorporate less energy-intensive coding principles into their DevOps lifecycle to lower the amount of energy required to process code.

The lean coding technique focuses on utilising as little processing as possible to provide a completed application. Website developers, for example, can prioritize file size reduction (e.g., responsive images). This not only speeds up page loading times but also enhances user experience.

Lean coding also aims to reduce code bloat, a term used to refer to the production of program code that is perceived as unnecessarily long, slow, or otherwise wasteful of resources. It is not uncommon for software engineers to take entire libraries to perform just one task, e.g., calculate the day before, and the entire library may be, e.g., 0.5 MB in size. You need one solution, but the entire library needs to be processed by the computer. This redundant code consumes additional processing power and contributes to increased carbon emissions.

Options for design and code

Here are some guidelines for developing environmentally friendly software.

  • Decrease the amount of data used. Adopt an effective caching strategy, limit data exchange, and manage the data lifecycle that is saved. Compress and aggregate data, and use responsive sizes for media and images when it is possible.
  • Refactor or remove features that aren’t being used. Keep reviewing the codebase. Remove unused code or refactor code to make it less cluttered and work faster. This increases software maintainability and energy efficiency.
  • Determine intensive loops. Determine loops that can’t achieve their intended purpose and uselessly consume energy. One way to improve some repeatable tasks is to use the throttle and debounce approach. Throttling limits the execution of a function to a specified frequency. Debouncing, on the other hand, delays the execution of a function until a certain amount of time has passed without the function being called again.
  • Adjust the behavior of your app to the power mode of the device. For web applications, you may use the Page Visibility API, for example, and reduce the application activity (specifically some background services).

Benefits of green coding

Aside from energy savings, businesses may discover additional benefits to green coding practices, such as the following:

  • Improved development discipline: Green coding empowers engineers to simplify complex infrastructures and, as a result, save time by reducing the amount of code software engineers produce.
  • Low resource consumption: Green software consumes fewer resources and less energy due to its higher simplicity and better performance, making it more cost-effective.
  • Simpler architecture: Sustainable applications typically have fewer interdependencies, implying that their functioning is more straightforward and energy-efficient. Additionally, simpler software is likely to be faster.
  • Boosting your brand: Nowadays, the reputation of your brand is just as crucial as its performance. Social responsibility and environmental awareness are clear advantages for your company, boosting user and client loyalty.

Green coding and SiteLint

When applications consume only what is required to fulfil their functions, you can boost utilization, reduce energy costs and carbon emissions, and achieve continuous efficiency.

At SiteLint has basic ideas that are included in our development process to make our software more sustainable and efficient. These ideas include optimising algorithms and data structures, employing energy-efficient hardware, decreasing network traffic, and optimising power consumption.

Earth and plants that represent being eco-friendly