Sustainable Software Engineering
Last year, I started programming as part of an internship. What started as a fun learning experience, has now turned into a big passion of mine. Another passion of mine is sustainability, and I have explored the combination between the two. In this article, I want to show you how to incorporate sustainability in the coding world. For those unfamiliar to coding, I invite you along to see if you can use any of these practices in your field of interest!
As worded best by Microsoft Developer Asim Hussain, the goal as a sustainable software engineer is “to build carbon-efficient applications. A carbon-efficient application is one that extracts the maximum value for each gram of carbon it is responsible for emitting into the atmosphere.”
TU Delft class instructor Luís Cruz describes sustainable software engineering as “the discipline that studies the process of creating software systems that are able to create value in the long term without hindering its surrounding environment.”
On Github there are many sustainable projects. Some great places to start your search are: Open Sustainable Technology, Climate change and Awesome Earth. These places offer a wide-range of projects, literature, and tools. Use these as an inspiration for a new project or contribute to one of the projects listed!
If you are sharing your projects on Github, it is worth looking into the climate strike license. By licensing your projects with the climate strike license, your code cannot be used by companies that are accelerating climate change through fossil fuel extraction.
Are you still eager to learn and want to incorporate sustainability in your studies? Our partner website Duurzame Studies is one of the ways to find all different kinds of sustainable studies. The TU Delft has a Software Engineering Research Group, which can be found here. One of their research topics is Sustainable Software Engineering.
Next to studies, there are also online courses from Microsoft, openHPI and the University of Chicago. Online courses often provide certification, as well as new insights for projects or portfolios.
It’s also possible to meet like-minded people. By contributing in a sustainable hackathon, you are working in a team to find solutions for climate issues. On websites like Earth Hacks and Devpost you can find sustainable hackathons and even win prizes for competing.
On LinkedIn you can also find livestreams and local events about sustainable coding. Search for terms such as: “sustainable software” and “sustainable coding”. If you set the filter to events, you can find one that suits you. Another way is to check the events of a green tech company you enjoy.
Upcoming events to check out:
- Green Software Summit
- International Conference on Sustainable Software Development for Health
- International Conference on Sustainability in Software Engineering & Business Information Management: Innovation & Applications (SSEBIM 2022)
What to do now?
Before you take off to become a sustainable software engineer, take a moment to evaluate the projects you’ve already done: Can you improve them? Are there projects out there you can learn from to make your project more sustainable?
In addition, I advise you to ask questions about sustainability in your field. Are other students thinking about their project’s carbon emissions? Are they aware of how sustainable their project is (or not)? By asking the question, you can help others gain a new perspective. You might motivate them to dig deeper into the subject!