Toward Sustainable Software Engineering

Nadine Amsel, Zaid Ibrahim, Amir Malik, and Bill Tomlinson
UC Irvine, USA
Different Angles

Current software engineering practices have significant effects on the environment. Examples include e-waste from computers made obsolete due to software upgrades, and changes in the power demands of new versions of software. Sustainable software engineering aims to create reliable, long-lasting software that meets the needs of users while reducing environmental impacts. We conducted three related research efforts to explore this area. First, we investigated the extent to which users thought about the environmental impact of their software usage. Second, we created a tool called GreenTracker, which measures the energy consumption of software in order to raise awareness about the environmental impact of software usage. Finally, we explored the indirect environmental effects of software in order to understand how software affects sustainability beyond its own power consumption. The relationship between environmental sustainability and software engineering is complex; understanding both direct and indirect effects is critical to helping humans live more sustainably.