Green coding is an efficient and sustainable approach to conserving the environment. It promotes creating computer algorithms that consume minimal energy.
This is no longer a secret; a heavy amount of energy is needed to power the data centers that companies run to host their services.
In fact, the amount of energy consumed by data centers across the globe is around 1% of the global electricity demand.
While many companies invest time and money into making their websites as powerful and efficient as possible without looking at the carbon emissions, others choose to use green coding to run their software and services.
For example, Amazon Web Services is set to power its complete operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025. Similarly, Google has also developed an ambitious target of operating the whole data center on carbon-free energy by 2030.
With the growing demands of digitalization, the use of data centers will also increase. Hence, it is absolutely necessary to power data centers with carbon-free and renewable energy and lower the energy required to power the websites.
Enterprises can achieve this by adopting green coding practices that consist of principles and processes to help software engineers create the most efficient code aligned with the requirements.
So, let’s understand green coding and the methodologies an enterprise needs to implement in order to reduce energy consumption.
What is Green Coding?
Green coding is a recent term popularized among various organizations for their intent toward environmental conservation. It enables software programmers and developers to create code or computer algorithms that can consume minimal energy.
Software engineers must consider two types while producing such algorithms:
- Structural considerations: It encompasses the energy measures related to the code blocks.
- Behavioral considerations: This is the energy consumption related to the user scenarios, including checking the Twitter feed, sending an email, etc.
Rather than implementing new principles against existing practices, software engineers consider writing and designing code to balance functionality and energy usage. Since every line of code is parsed, the device used to process the code helps enhance carbon emissions. When a device process more code at a given time, a higher level of carbon emissions occurs.
Green coding practices encourage lean coding principles where a minimal amount of processing will be needed to deliver a similar result and application. For maintaining a green environment, website developers prioritize high-quality media with smaller files to achieve their goals. With respect to this, organizations can decrease the use of large files enabling users to experience minimal loading time.
Furthermore, green coding not only helps businesses reduce their energy consumption but also helps with sustainability and SEO. A greener future for IT can also be achieved by reducing screen image resolutions which helps developers save more time in operation.
Many digital transformation businesses offer training at all levels by making various steps that a company can implement to continue with the green coding practices.
Adopting greener servers proves crucial for reducing energy consumption. Companies can conserve energy in enterprise data centers by using virtual servers to scale up their servers. Unlike virtualization, containerization is another option that is essentially a betterment over virtual systems.
How can larger lines of code harm the environment?
Code is simply the programming performed by software engineers or developers to design and develop software. A developer’s coding can be stylish, bombastic, pompous, or concise.
Certain software types require significant space on your computer’s hard drive and demand heavy computing resources to operate. This is due to a large number of useless lines of code and functions used in the development.
However, the processors perform more calculations compared to simple software to get the outcome. In order to achieve such an outcome, it consumes more energy, resulting in more carbon emissions.
Thus, many organizations are working on reducing the lines of code while creating programs in an effort to implement green coding.
Objectives of Green Coding
Coding can become greener instantly if we adopt a similar development process as we did 20+ years ago when coding was strict to sizes and lengths.
Over the years, the ability of programmers to write less refined or longer code became limitless with the growing use of libraries and frameworks.
Although there is no doubt that these techniques benefit the growing age of digitalization and modernization, they can be harmful as well.
Using a large number of frameworks and libraries might degrade the quality of your software. Hence, when the software has to read longer programming codes to process a given request, it would result in high emissions.
Ultimately, the critical time is very near to us, and there could never be the right time to adopt green coding than now if we are to conserve the environment.
The main objective of green coding is to find the balance between energy usage and programming quality.
Modern applications in today’s rapidly growing tech world are frequently deployed over the cloud. The exponential growth of the service based on clouds also has resulted in the expansion of intensive data centers that consumes much electricity.
Thus, efforts are coming the way to focus on green coding to reduce carbon emissions and optimize the hardware. These techniques are really helpful in addressing the problem, and sustainable software interventions can help open new scenarios to save energy.
What are the Three Pillars of Green Coding?
Green coding is completely based on the principles of an organization which is supported by three pillars that are used to write the code, develop, and run it.
- The first pillar tells you “what is generated from the code itself” or “is it efficient enough in terms of energy invested?”.
- The second pillar tells you “how it is generated”, “is the development lifecycle efficient?” or “could a similar code be generated with minimal energy consumption”.
- The third pillar tells you, “where is the software operated?” or “is it required to consume more energy to run the code?”.
Through these questions, one developer can definitely understand how to deal with the coding for a greener environment.
So, the three pillars of green coding are:
Every decision matters in green coding. Even single optimization can make a significant impact on the environment. To make it possible within the organization, you can take care of these things:
- Zero waste code
- Frequency of use
- Low footprint resources
- Benefit-driven visual content
Lean and agile methods make green coding practices easier across software development. Thus, continuous integration and continuous delivery have an impact on the development lifecycle.
At the core of sustainable software, green coding is widely available, which helps in reducing carbon emissions.
For maximum energy efficiency, organizations apply green code to their development platform. It depends on three methods:
- Optimal utilization: Minimal optimization is the result of overestimating during the planning stage. This could also be a result of compressing the larger lines of code into the needful lines of code.
- Precise configuration
- Holistic metrics
With these three pillars, you must be able to write green codes easily.
Which programming languages are the most energy efficient?
Energy efficiency is not just related to hardware; it’s also applicable to software, including the programming language you use to create your code.
This is why if you want to implement green coding, you need to consider the energy efficiency of the programming language you are going to use.
A programming language’s efficiency depends on several factors – energy, memory, and time they consume in execution. The efficiency can also be improved with the quality of virtual machines, compilers, optimized libraries, and better source code.
Today, engineers, developers, and researchers are working to make coding as green as possible. That said, a team of researchers from Portugal studied the 27 most used programming languages to determine their efficiency and answer – is a faster programming language more efficient or greener?
The researchers tested all these languages by executing or compiling programs using advanced virtual machines, compilers, libraries, and interpreters. Next, they analyzed each programming language’s efficiency with rest to energy consumption, execution time, and memory usage.
As a result, the 5 most energy-efficient programming languages they found were:
Furthermore, they also found that faster programming languages are not always the most energy efficient. While Java ranks well in both energy efficiency and speed, Python, Perl, Ruby, etc., are among the least efficient programming languages.
Best practices to save energy and reduce emissions
Companies are now finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of carbon emissions. Even turning off and unplugging the computers or devices consume enormous energy, given the number of devices used across the world. So, by implementing some IT practices, the energy that powers each workstation can be easily reduced to anywhere between 17-74 percent.
Here are some steps that digital transformation organizations and software engineering firms can take to minimize emissions and promote sustainable IT:
- Downsizing: You can downsize the file size of images, text, or video by using media compression software. It will cut the file sizes in half, promoting faster navigation, lower energy use, and better user experience.
- Prioritization: Website developers need to know the prioritization of high-quality media so that the quality of programs and applications should be maintained.
- Reducing the lines of coding: Green coding helps reduce the lines of coding, offering a beautiful approach toward environmental conservation. So, instead of using libraries and frameworks, which leads to large code lengths, you can use the good old manual coding practices wherever possible. It will not only help reduce emissions but also provide superior code quality.
- Proper space utilization: Maximizing the data center space is a good step to minimize cooling and energy costs.
- Relocating servers: Relocating your servers to colder climates can reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 8%.
- Implementing data center best practices: You can follow some of the data center best practices to reduce unwanted emissions. These practices are as follows:
- Focus on outside air cooling
- Automate control of security, outdoor cooling, and lights.
- Cool as per the necessity. Over-cooling can cause energy loss.
- Separate the aisles based on cold and hot temperatures.
- Power usage effectiveness should be 1.2 or lower.
- Remove or unplug zombie servers that aren’t doing computing while still plugged in.
- Migrating to the cloud: Cloud energy is more efficient in terms of easy scaling and cost-effectiveness.
- Using powerful and state-of-the-art IT: Legacy systems require more power. Its large sizes tend the servers to generate large heat output, which requires additional cooling. You can use some tools to identify and release systems that are not useful.
- Using computers that are rated as energy efficient: IT giants must use energy-efficient systems to maintain sustainable IT. Allow your teams to choose their own way of coding instead of making the process more difficult, time-consuming, and energy-consuming.
Sustainable IT practices are not the only means for companies to follow. Individuals can also take part in reducing energy spent on devices. Some practices are:
- Setting your computer to sleep while not in use instead of keeping it on standby.
- Upgrading to the smart power strips may result in cutting down the vampire energy that devices consume.
- Share printers only for the necessary work.
- Working remotely also seems to be very effective in reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions due to reduced infrastructure and maintenance needs.
Steps towards Green Coding
Green coding is a possible solution to reduce carbon emissions which is a commitment to our beautiful earth and also our health. This is an emerging idea, and most organizations have already started working on the project to develop the best green coding practices.
Here’s how enterprises or IT giants are proceeding towards green coding:
- Offering training to the existing and new IT engineers on green coding within the business to enhance code quality. This could raise awareness of the green coding importance. Furthermore, it encourages developers to work more precisely to minimize lines of code.
- Encourage developers to green code through skills development and innovation by incentivizing developers within the enterprise.
- Embed a culture and mentality of efficiency around your business by making this a part of the organization’s DNA, allowing developers to design codes as necessary.
- Make a sustainable strategy for all the team by giving flexibility in coding through the required resources.
Everyone business must strive to conserve the environment by focusing on greener practices to reduce energy emissions. Green coding is an excellent step towards environmental conservation that still needs wider adoption across the world.
To reduce carbon emissions, try reducing the lines of code and minimizing the use of libraries and frameworks that add unnecessary lines of code and consume a lot of energy to operate.
Thus, implement green coding and also encourage their employees, clients, and other industries to adopt sustainable practices. This will help contribute toward sustainable IT and conserving the environment from the harmful effects of emissions.
You may also look at an introduction to green computing.