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In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, where software engineering teams so often hold the key, a new imperative is taking centre stage – sustainability.

While the impact of software development on the environment might not seem immediately obvious, there’s no doubt that high energy consumption and wastefulness can both harm the planet.

Of course, this is hardly unique to software engineering, yet reducing waste helps the environment and also delivers wide-ranging benefits for businesses. By making the effort to enhance your operation’s sustainability, you can become more adaptable, cost-efficient, and behave more ethically – a rare win-win-win.

What is the Environmental Impact of Software Engineering?

When you think about what harms the environment, what comes to mind? Transportation, heavy industry, agriculture? In terms of environmental impact, software engineering pales in comparison to these industries. Nevertheless, we can still have a positive effect on the planet through sustainable software engineering practices.

Let’s be clear: software itself doesn’t cause harm. But the way that software is developed – and the way it’s used later on – absolutely can be wasteful. We all know software runs on hardware, but some people forget that more demanding applications can be energy intensive.

Many people are not aware of this, particularly because most of the impacts are indirect. They’re hidden behind screens and lines of code, deep in the distance – out of sight, out of mind.

But at Areti, our minds are always attuned to environmental sustainability – and we believe there are several green changes that software engineering teams can make that will help more than just the planet.

Considering the increasing scale of software engineering – and use of software more widely – we believe now is as good a time as any to consider more sustainable software engineering strategies.

What is Sustainable Software Engineering?

What are the main objectives for software engineering teams? How do they measure success and failure?

In most cases, teams assess software functionality, security, scalability, and accessibility. These are all fine metrics for creating effective applications, but they don’t give us a full picture. They don’t tell us too much about the software’s sustainability.

By changing our mindset, though, we can learn more. Moving forward, if we start giving more consideration to software reusability, longevity, and computational efficiency, we begin to take strides on the path to greater sustainability.

It isn’t just the environment that benefits, either. There’s reason to believe that taking this green approach could boost your bottom line and future-proof your business – and who wouldn’t want that?

Are Cost Savings Through Sustainable Software Engineering Possible?

Many businesses think less about sustainability than they should. There’s no doubt that, at least in part, this is because it’s seen as a costly endeavour with only minor benefits.

But what would you think if adopting sustainable software engineering practices could also enhance profitability? Thankfully, that’s possible.

Prioritising lower energy consumption at every corner can reduce costs in a big way – this is something we’ve seen play out with massively reduced hosting expenses. Further optimising code, utilising renewable energy sources, and embracing energy-efficient hardware all have the potential to reduce long-term expenses too.

It’s worth noting that, contrary to popular belief, sustainable software development processes don’t cost more than unsustainable practices – any higher upfront costs are likely to be offset by savings in the long run.

How Sustainable Software Engineering Future-Proofs Operations

It’s time to remind ourselves – in case anyone’s forgotten – that sustainability isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a shield against potential risks.

As environmental regulations become stricter, both at home and internationally, businesses that have already embedded sustainable practices will adapt far more easily.

Never being taken by surprise and forced into evasive action, you can proceed with your plans without fear of the unknown. That holds obvious value for ambitious teams.

Getting ahead of the game could mean sidestepping legal and financial pitfalls, both of which could cripple your operation in certain circumstances.

Thinking beyond risks, it’s worth remembering that now, more than ever, consumers are increasingly favouring environmentally conscious products and services, too. Integrating sustainable practices can augment brand appeal and attract new customers.

How to Implement Sustainable Software Engineering Practices

So, how do software engineering teams embrace sustainability? There’s no simple answer.

For the best results, think big. Environmentally conscious ideologies should pervade every aspect of the business, not just individual software engineering teams. Of course, that doesn’t mean that small changes here and there won’t make a difference – they will.

Fostering a culture of sustainability within teams while providing education and training are crucial steps, and will surely pay dividends with time and patience.

A change in mindset is vital, obviously, but that alone isn’t enough. New models, tools, and guidelines can help measure and reduce software’s impact on the environment, whether through energy consumption or otherwise.

Taking this holistic approach – introducing new practical measures, training practices, and a culture change – will deliver desirable results.

Ready to Enjoy Sweeping Benefits?

The intertwining nature of sustainability, cost savings, and future protections in the realm of software engineering can’t be denied.

Acknowledging environmental impacts leads to sizable cost-saving opportunities, and the chance to future-proof against evolving market demands and challenges.

Taking action now not only sets you apart from your current competitors, but helps your brand resonate with an ever-more eco-conscious society – advantages you simply can’t ignore.