Highlights from the State of Green Software 🔋.

I recently read the findings from the Green Software Foundation’s State of Green Software Report, which brings to light some interesting gaps, opportunities, trends, and the growing need for Green Software practices and solutions.

Here are a summary of my highlights.

Business Case for Green Software:

Growing Market: The green software services market was valued at $12.46 billion. Forecasted to reach $34.83 billion by 2030. Pitchbook expects climate tech jobs to be a $1.4 trillion industry by 2027.

Need action from leadership: 78% of CEOs find that sustainability incentivizes investment, but 63% of CEOs do not view sustainability as a top priority

Brand perception: an effective sustainability technology strategy can help a company jump by 11% in its ESG ranking.

Employee retention: 40% of millennials said they have chosen to work for an employer because of their strong sustainability performance, and 30% said they decided to leave a job because of poor sustainability performance.

Legislation and Regulation: Software legislation has quadrupled in the last decade.

Gaps and Opportunities

Scope 3: of tools to comprehensively measure and report scope 3 emissions, in particular, remained a barrier. While 92% of overall emissions are scope 3 emissions, BCG found that only 12% of survey respondents viewed scope 3 emissions as a priority.

Personal Devices are more intense than cloud usage: According to McKinsey, personal devices contribute 1.5 to 2 times more than data centers.

Need for Training: companies will have trouble meeting their net zero goals unless they begin systematically training their employees in sustainability: instructors, formal training modules, and continuing education programs.

Code Cleanup: “unattended projects”, in its data centers accounted for over 600 gross metric tons of CO2 emissions. Google rolled out an Unattended Project Recommender.

Translation and access: 99.95% of the quoted research is in English, and a vast majority is behind a paywall.

Non Profit Endeavors lack funding: There is a systematic funding gap for creating public goods such as greener algorithms or greener open-source libraries or greener open-source software. Neither research funding nor start-up funding applies to non-profit engineering.

Eco Friendly Browser?: Microsoft released a carbon-aware Xbox, and, during the 2023 Game Developers Conference, announced that Xbox would be the “first console platform to release dedicated energy consumption and carbon emissions measurement tools designed for (and with) game creators to help understand and reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption posed by the games that they develop.” What if Mozilla did for browsing what XBox did for gaming?

Need for Green Software

Software Carbon Emissions are Growing vs Other Sectors: The cloud alone has a larger carbon footprint than the airline industry, increasing 9% YOY. By 2040, software is expected to account for 14% of the world’s carbon footprint.

IRL events: global in-person conferences that turn virtual reduce an event’s carbon footprint by 94% and energy use by 90%.

Responsible AI is Green AI: integrating LLMs into search engines may multiply the emissions associated with each search by as much as five times. “training GPT‑3 in Microsoft’s state-of-the-art U.S. data centers can directly consume 700,000 liters of clean fresh water.

Cloud Server Location is key driver: Google Cloud allows developers to “choose the location with the cleanest energy, further reducing the gross carbon footprint by 5x–10x.”

SOGS By the Numbers:

  • 56.54% of developers optimize code by measuring its energy consumption/carbon footprint
  • 44.59% minimize the amount of data their software sends/receives
  • 35.2% maximize the utilization of their hardware
  • 24.73% create software that is energy-efficient
  • 20.93% create software that can run on older devices/hardware
  • 11.08% create software that is carbon-efficient
  • 8% create carbon-aware software