ESG in Software Development: A Green Approach to Lowering Carbon Footprint

Table of contents

Sustainable development should allow us to meet the current generation’s needs without diminishing the chances of future generations to meet them. Therefore, according to the UN’s findings, by 2030, we should focus on the best possible realization of economic, social, and governance goals that will improve the quality of life for everyone on Earth. What part does software development play in this, and what steps can we take to achieve environmental neutrality, especially regarding carbon footprint generation? Check it out in the following paragraphs.

Definition and Introduction to ESG

The ESG principles drive the business to use resources more responsibly and to act transparently toward competitors and employees. The acronym ESG corresponds to the three main factors by which companies are evaluated. These include:

  • E for the environment means managing natural resources, waste, and climate impact.
  • S for social, which stands for respect for labor laws, workers’ rights, decent pay, and involvement in the local community.
  • G for governance, meaning ethical business practices, transparency, and independence in board positions.

Implementing ESG is very important for companies in every sector, including those developing software for themselves or their customers. While everyone agrees that ESG is extremely important, according to Accenture, only 49% of CIOs are part of the team setting sustainability goals, and only 45% are held accountable for achieving those goals. Only 7% of companies claim complete integrity in their technology strategy with sustainability. This is an intimidating metric, considering that there are only a few years left to achieve the goals.

Understanding ESG and Its Importance in the Tech Industry

The IT industry is a significant component of the overall economy, so changes in line with ESG should proceed as soon as possible. Specifically, this applies to practices that affect the environment. While the code is not producing CO2, it is an impactful element that affects the systems’ functioning and energy consumption at different stages.

There are claims in the business that going to zero carbon will be impossible due to the growing need for more computing power. One of the energy-consuming technologies growing at a breakneck pace is Artificial Intelligence. AI models are embraced worldwide for their capabilities and consume vast amounts of energy during learning. Their popularity will only increase, so striving for a greener IT industry based on renewable energy sources is essential.

Nowadays, the ICT sector emits more greenhouse gases than the aviation industry, but by implementing ESG practices, there is a chance to reduce global carbon emissions by up to 35% before 2030. Some hope lies in prioritizing green energy sources above current ones and in some minor modifications that even a small software house can incorporate into its everyday work.

The Environmental Aspect: Lowering Carbon Footprint in Software Development

Businesses are increasingly moving toward computationally intensive operations. Industrial automation is gaining momentum, with connected devices and the Internet of Things gaining popularity. These solutions are very convenient for end users but have the drawback of generating vast amounts of data and increasing processing requirements.

How can you simultaneously provide customers with convenient software solutions and protect the environment by following ESG goals? The choice of cloud services plays a significant role in helping achieve sustainability benefits within economic, environmental, and social systems. Cloud data centers are flexible, allowing companies to manage resources while reducing environmental impact efficiently.

Paradoxically, the use of artificial intelligence can also have a positive impact on reducing the carbon footprint. Predicting many software development cases affecting climate change or using AI for real-time performance analysis will allow for defining short-term and long-term goals.

A significant contribution to the decarbonization of the world is also a change in code writing practices. Leaner code will allow you to achieve higher performance, so it is worth changing your existing coding habits to be more efficient and carry out a legacy software code update.

The Social Component: Ensuring Sustainability Through Inclusive Design

The assumptions of the 2030 Agenda assume the removal of many barriers existing in society. One is equal and open digital access, which would minimize inequalities in access to information, communication, and knowledge. Therefore, all IT companies should bear in mind that they design their solutions not only for users without disabilities.

Increasing the availability of software for the deaf, blind, or people with other disabilities allows them to use modern technology to a similar extent as healthy people. Companies that use inclusive solutions gain more respect among recipients, undoubtedly increasing profits.

ESG in Software Development - developers working in green office.

Governance in Tech: Promoting Ethical Practices and Data Security

One of the trends in software engineering is creating personalized solutions that allow you to manage your household or work responsibilities from a single application. Unfortunately, this also means the collection of massive amounts of data that can be used without the owners’ knowledge. The line between bulk data acquisition for application purposes and use for advertising is thin, and many companies, especially monopolists like Google, Apple, or Microsoft, have crossed it long ago.

One of the ESG efforts is transparency in the activities of companies that obtain data from their customers. Users should be able to access it at all times and know what purposes it can be used for. Companies are also tasked with betting on cybersecurity development to minimize the risk of data leaks that could harm customers and businesses.

Challenges and Opportunities

The ESG initiatives, despite their long presence in business, have not yet been implemented as corporate practices in most companies. What deters boards from pursuing sustainability? First and foremost, there is an unclear system for reporting and evaluating changes. There are no standardized reporting rules; instead, multiple reporting frameworks set sustainability levels at different levels. Many enterprises are postponing the implementation of environmentally beneficial rules due to complicated regulations and their lack of understanding. Changes in line with Agenda 2030 often require significant costs, which businesses do not want to decide on in difficult times.

Although the effort and financial investment must be made at the outset of ESG implementation, more and more people are now turning to companies that use green energy and optimize their environmental impact. It’s likely that over time, those who are unwilling to change their approach to sustainability will see declines in interest and revenue. If you don’t want to be in the latter group, it’s worth looking into sustainable software development practices.

Our Conclusion

Technology is crucial to solving challenges and making life easier, but it must be used in a way that generates the fewest harmful side effects. Implementing green practices in IT will contribute to sustainability and improve productivity, reduce operating costs, and facilitate compliance with regulatory requirements and standards.

If you want to pursue sustainability mindfully and gain a competitive advantage, contact Scalo experts. We can help you implement software development best practices that will reduce your carbon footprint and increase the trust of key stakeholders. Schedule an appointment today and give your company a green chance!

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