An overview of the CO2 footprint of software

The Green Software Foundation and NTT DATA have presented the “Software Carbon Intensity (SCI)”, an assessment methodology for CO2 emissions from software. […]

NTT DATA, the global IT service provider and steering member of the Green Software Foundation (GSF), has developed the “Software Carbon Intensity” (SCI), a methodology for assessing the CO₂ footprint of software, together with other GSF companies.

The goal of the GSF is to create a trustworthy ecosystem of people, standards, tools and best practices for the deployment of green software. GSF, led by Accenture, GitHub, Globant, Microsoft, Thoughtworks and NTT DATA, has developed a methodology for assessing the CO2 footprint of software with the alpha version of the software Carbon Intensity.

SCI defines a methodology for calculating the CO2 emissions of a software system and enables a quantitative assessment based on point values. This is done on the basis of power and hardware consumption. Based on this criterion, the environmental impact of the operation of software with the same functions can be compared and the impact of changes to software on CO2 emissions can be understood.

This assessment is designed to help users and developers make informed decisions about which tools, approaches, architectures and services they will use in the future. SCI identifies system improvements from the point of view of CO2 emissions, proposes appropriate improvement measures and enables the development and operation of software technologies with a lower environmental impact. With SCI, NTT DATA wants to develop green systems as well as information and communication technology services and thus make a contribution to society’s climate neutrality.

Stefan Hansen, CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of NTT DATA DACH: “Digitalization and sustainability are closely linked, because digital technologies are sustainability drivers and central to the calculation and optimization of environmental and climate impacts. In addition, their importance for companies and their business models is increasing massively. Of course, IT and software also generate a significant amount of emissions – with SCI we can help to minimize this factor as much as possible.“

SCI application and focus areas

The SCI value can be calculated for any software application, from a large distributed cloud system to an open source mobile game and everything in between. The SCI scores are a specific indicator, not an absolute amount for the carbon footprint. The focus of the SCI assessment is on reducing CO2 emissions, not neutralizing them. An improvement in the SCI value is only possible through changes to a software system in order to use less physical hardware and less energy or to use lower CO2 energy sources. Neutralisations, such as CO2 compensations, do not reduce the SCI value.

*Bernhard Lauer is, among other things, a freelance editor of dotnetpro and manages the Basic Instinct section here, for example. He has been programming privately with Visual Basic since version 1.0.

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