April 17, 2024

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Green coding: 5 tips for energy saving programs

Green coding: 5 tips for energy saving programs

Code doesn't just have to be fast and efficient. It should also be energy efficient, green coding advocates say. Here an expert explains how you can do it.

Code Green: Our expert reveals what it is
Andrey Onufrienko/Getty Images

Gerd-Dittger Hoffmann is CTO at Green Coding Solutions, a green technology company for sustainable digital transformation based in Berlin..

Through green coding, the IT community wants to provide an approach to software development with a minimal environmental footprint. This creates an opportunity for startups to be at the forefront of this movement and combine sustainability with technological innovation.

Green coding goes beyond simply optimizing code and includes a holistic view of software development with the goal of reducing environmental and climate impacts. It involves considering energy efficiency and CO2 efficiency at every stage of the software life cycle – from design, through development and deployment, to maintenance and decommissioning. The basic idea is that software should not only be functional and easy to use, but also have as little environmental footprint as possible.

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This also means a commitment to transparency and communication about consumption and emissions. Given the problem of climate change, this involves an ethical element that is now also required in communicating with customers.

This is how the practical implementation of green coding works:

1. Think sustainably from the start

The first step towards effective green coding is to incorporate sustainability considerations into the first phase of software design. This means taking energy efficiency and minimal environmental impact into account as central criteria when designing software architectures and designs. Such an approach requires a deep understanding of how different design decisions affect the power consumption of the final software.

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This includes the startup's decision to make energy consumption and emissions one of the key performance indicators that is understood and used across all teams. This is how a sustainable strategy is created.

2. The importance of measurements

One of the key principles in effective green coding implementation is measurement. Before pursuing improvements, it is necessary to understand where and how resources are being consumed. It is important to know the CO2 and energy profile for your application. By carefully analyzing energy and resource consumption, developers and companies can determine which aspects of their programs have the greatest climate impact.

The measurements make it possible to determine the energy consumption of software applications at different stages of development and use. This includes determining the energy intensity of code executions, evaluating the efficiency of database queries, and analyzing the energy consumption of servers and other infrastructure components. Many services are also integrated into development today, such as CI/CD pipelines, which require significant computing power.

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In addition, measuring consumption enables continuous monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of improvement measures. This is particularly important at a time when companies are increasingly required to demonstrate their environmental responsibility and provide transparent reporting on their efforts.

A potential startup communication with their own product could then, for example, be a phrase like: “10 grams of CO2 per API call” or “8 grams of CO2 per customer journey/sale.”

Although implementing measurement tools and procedures requires an initial investment in time and resources, it is an essential investment for the future.

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3. The role of energy efficiency in code development

After measuring, the next logical step is to optimize to reduce software emissions. This involves writing clean, efficient code that uses less processor power and memory. In addition, choosing programming languages ​​and frameworks known for their efficiency. But also to avoid idle times as much as possible and to use devices for as long as possible. In developers' daily lives, it's also about providing the tools and knowledge so they can make informed decisions. Not every improvement is beneficial for every product and company size. However, a structured process with potential for improvement is essential.

In the world of green coding, promoting sustainability through the use of specialized tools and advanced technologies plays a key role. These tools not only enable improvement in developer and engineer silos, but also move KPIs to other teams.

These advances open new opportunities to optimize energy consumption across the entire software lifecycle: from the first line of code to running on global servers. The concept of a carbon database becomes more important here. By using these tools, developers and companies can not only be environmentally responsible, but also create more efficient, cost-effective software solutions that meet the demands of the modern digital economy.

5. Establishing a culture of sustainability

Introducing green programming in startups requires more than just technical solutions: it requires creating a culture in which sustainability is a core value. This means implementing educational and training programs for developers that raise awareness of the importance of green coding and provide practical skills for sustainable software development. It also means sharing best practices within the organization and with the wider developer community to encourage a move towards more sustainable software development.

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