Install Environmental Integrity? Y/N?

In the battle for the planet, software is both part of the solution, and the problem. It harvests the data that helps us predict what is coming next, while simultaneously adding to the behaviours that got us in this mess to begin with. So, what is to be done?

Let us get one thing straight, right from the off. IT and the attendant communications industry is energy hungry. By 2040, those who work in it, or use it, are expected to account for 14% of the world’s carbon footprint. In 2007, it was a modest 1.5%.

There’s an ongoing debate about what constitutes a little tweaking of honest reports around environmental, social and governance, the business pillars around which companies must be accountable, and flat-out lying to look better. In other words, jumping aboard an increasingly burdened bandwagon. 

Tread carefully, the green consumer!

For the conscience-driven buyer, personal or corporate, it can be a minefield. We know, for example, that smartphones, like other IT hardware, are contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. In a pretty big way, too – the annual CO2 toll of 10 hours’ smartphone usage racks up 90 kg if used for 10 hours a day. 

Surely, though, software consumes no energy in of itself, or discharge anything. So, no problem, right? Wrong. That software runs on hardware and that means an incremental rise in energy consumption. And you might be surprised at those figures. 

Researchers at the University of Cambridge noted, for example, that their new online tool for measuring the power required to maintain bitcoin, as in the network, ran to 64 terawatt hours, equaling that of Switzerland. As in the whole country. 

On the other hand…

It is only fair to acknowledge what is in the plus column for software. Dedicated ‘green,’ or sustainable software, is designed, developed, and implemented to limit our energy consumption and environmental impact. It is behind the energy meters we are all now watching like hawks as energy prices rocket. 

There are also developer tools that evaluate energy consumption at a granular, i.e. dev and deploy level. Capterra offers the top twenty sustainable software options. In addition, this blog offers a handy – if extensive – list of things to do when creating software from scratch to keep you on the right path to meet your corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals. 

It is a lot to take in. Another challenge for the SME to overcome when they just seem to keep on coming. Many look back in fondness to the days when the only criteria a software company had to meet was to ensure the thing worked, met the deadline and did not bust the budget. And – circling back on the original point – there is no guarantee that your competitors are half as green as they maintain. 

There is another way.

So, if you’re ready to create software that improves your business offering, without costing the Earth, then get in touch. 

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