What is 'Green Software'?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009 12:59 AM

by Alex Yakima

Does the Green Software really exist? And if so, what it does or how it does things? Where's real green projects separated from
rumors and hype?


Despite the fact that big software companies are often scrutinized in respect to their environmental impact and we are not an exception having thousands developers and offices around the globe, we're still sure that

Real impact comes when software company participates in actual commercial green projects.

Not trying to say that the way software company "exists" doesn't matter at all. Of course it is better when software developers buy their fast food in paper bags vs plastic or use more whiteboards than flip-charts... but sometimes the list goes too far from what really matters, emphasizing on potential over-use of computational capabilities of hardware and so on. Development process must be not just lean but also comfortable for developers and they should not sacrifice running their unite-tests to questionable environmental impact of it. Instead making quality software that helps protecting environment - this is where software companies can make their positive impact.

Here's few examples of green domains where we're really busy as a custom software development company:

• Carbon Emissions Trading. This is very powerful model from the economic standpoint and it requires really efficient software solutions. Here's why. Carbon Emissions Trade (also known as cap-and-trade) simply means that those who pollute more pay to those who pollute less. This is huge incentive to companies and governments to invest in CO2 emissions reduction. Now, in order to reduce the emissions without negative impact to the production capabilities, companies need to re-engineer and tune their manufacturing processes. For this to happen they need someone (usually a consultancy firm) who's gonna be able to a) measure where are they now and how much do different process components 'contribute' to overall volume of emissions; b) model how to improve the process. For different industries number vary but every manufacturing process usually consists of hundreds factors that impact level of emissions to certain extent.

We actually create the software which consultancy firms use to measure and monitor processes to determine the most important factors that needs to be modified. One of the industries we are busily working for is aviation, which has to adapt to ETS regulations on fuel efficiency for flights.

• Smart Energy. Electric energy is quite specific type of "fuel". There's no way of managing it in the 'off-line', you can't preserve it in huge volumes (as you can for oil or natural gas). What needs to be done though is optimization of energy distribution in real time which is not a trivial task per se. Here comes embedded software in rescue to this problem. That's huge subject in itself and I think it deserves separate post. At the meantime here's brief overview of what we do in this domain.

• Consumer Privacy. No mistake. Believe it or not, but consumer privacy has so much to do with environment. And one of the biggest issues is paper junk mail. The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year. 44% goes to the landfill unopened. So, how can any of us get rid of all this? Not that easy. You actually need to go to each merchant web site, fill in the form and submit it or send them a paper mail (another type of waste) asking them stop sending unsolicited offerings to your mailbox. And we know that everything that takes that much effort doesn't work for many and people just don't go all way to get rid of it. But with right technology the process can be automated or at least semi-automated and the consumer can just log on to one system, enter her or his data and the system takes care of unsubscribing the person from all sources required. From the technology standpoint, yes, this is a challenge because system needs to sustain different interfaces and flows for each individual merchant and be flexible enough to adapt for more interfaces as well as catching up with those changing.

Green software really exists and participation in green projects is something software companies should really seriously consider. That is the best way to make impact.


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