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The Software Side of Green ICT

Most Green ICT efforts focus on hardware. That make sense, because hardware lifecycles encompass everything from environmentally responsible sourcing of its raw materials through energy efficiency of its use to sustainable disposal at its end-of-life. Special utility software such as desktop power-saving plays a central role in Green ICT, but less attention has been given to the application and system software in the gear, itself. Interest in how to create more sustainable software is growing, albeit slower than we would like.

2016

Our Green ICT Conference Directory lists only one 2016 event with "software" in the title: GREENS 2016 - 5th International Workshop on Green & Sustainable Software. That compares with three in 2015.

2007-2015

The Green Code Lab Challenge , a France-based operation, announced its results in December 2015. The Challenge "...helped more than 400 students and 25 professionals to showcase an unsung yet essential topic in the digitalization of our economy, namely eco-design software." The competition focused on minimizing the energy consumption in a connection between an IoT object and its server.

The GHG Protocol Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard ICT Sector Guidance is a joint project of World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the Carbon Trust and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). A review by Markus Dick in the Sustainable Software Blog says that the most recent draft offers "…deep insight into methods to measure and calculate the energy consumption of software run on consumer and server devices. These are therefore of high interest for software architects and developers who want to know how changes to their software architecture and implementation impact the GHG emissions of a specific use case during the usage stage of their software product." An interesting conclusion is that "…the real advantage of the measurements is that it enables us developers to build software that performs well on slower or simpler and therefore more energy efficient devices."

GREENSOFTis a German project initiated in 2010 to apply Green ICT principles to "software products, software development processes and their underlying software process models." Ecologeenet, one of the project's collaborators, tells me that full project funding is uncertain for 2013. Spin-offs from the project live on, including the Green Power Indicator for Firefox and the English-language Sustainable Software Blog. GREENSOFT's publications and other materials remain available on its web site.

GREEN-NET is a French project initiated in 2007 which "explores the design of energy-aware software frameworks dedicated to large scale distributed systems". This appears to be an attempt to integrate energy-monitoring software with applications/system software.

A call for integrating emissions tracking features into platform software came from Tom Raftery at a 2012 Red Monk conference presentation. "Hack the currently available open source cloud platforms (Eucalyptus, CloudStack and OpenStack), write emissions measurement and reporting patches. Get the patches accepted back into the core so that when the next update of the software is pushed out, the companies using the three platforms will at a stroke, have energy and reporting capabilities. At that point customer demand should ensure that they make this info public (or at least available to their customers)."

Check out other Green ICT innovations and basic research by clicking on the FutureTech tag at the top of this post.