Why coding needs to be re-evaluated for sustainability objectives
By Pete Coulter, UK Regional Director, GFT
Coding has changed immensely over the last decade, with its application and construction becoming increasingly complex. Software engineers have strived for intricacy and sophisticated multi-functionality, encouraged by the advancement and availability of powerful operating systems, hardware and data storage.
Where coding is concerned, its rise in application required faster construction and rollout. While this was happening, the functionality and resilience of coded products and services were prioritised over energy efficiency. In fact, the latter gained little focus at all. This led to over-complicated code that required more energy to run, had slower operating times, and resulted in poorer user experience.
Pushing code to ever-expanding limits has undoubtedly driven innovation in a whole host of technologies. As a result, it’s now present in our everyday lives, from the supermarket checkouts to vehicle insurance price calculators. However, the coding sector has not, until recently, looked inward to consider the impact traditional coding practices have in terms of energy use and the environment. What is changing now is a recognition that efficiency can coexist with impressive functionality.
Climate impact and industry change
ICT is forecast to form 21% of electrical consumption by 2030, with information and technology use demanding between 5-9% of electrical use worldwide, equating to 3.5% of emissions globally. Equally, the proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions linked to digital technologies has risen from 2.5 % to 3.7 % in the last decade. With internet use increasing by as much as 78% year-on-year, the environmental impact coding has on business operations needs to be acknowledged, and changes must occur to tackle lacking sustainability-based dynamics.
IT’s biggest players, such as Google and Amazon Web Services, have already recognised the environmental implications of having a connected, digital world. Both have taken steps to ensure their data centres are running on renewable energy and their operations are carbon positive. IT companies, such as software businesses, need to look beyond their cloud storage and renewable energy efforts and investigate deeper into their internal operations to see how emerging focus areas, such as coding, can ensure their sustainability objectives are met as soon as possible.
Software engineers have gone full circle and back to basics to make IT greener
With the help of green coding, specialists such as GFT, software architects and software companies alike are beginning to understand the inefficiencies in current coding construction – through educational realignment programmes that challenge legacy processes and install new ways of working. They are now stripping unnecessary coding practices that have existed for the past decade, prioritising simpler architecture that runs smoothly and quickly, without auxiliary code-line wasting unnecessary energy.
Green coding principles champion efficiency by cutting down on excess code and building products and services that have been streamlined and simplified. This occurs crucially before and during construction, but also with subsequent updates to software. In other words, there has been a shift of thinking, with energy efficiency and simplification prioritised over complexity under new best practices.
What coders find, is that software ambitions can be met through green coding with the same, if not more, effectiveness compared to coding that features the full arsenal of formatting and function-building. Adhering to this method of ICT architecture means code runs quicker, saving on power usage and processing time.
The future of green coding for small and large financial services firms
Green coding is only now emerging as a best practice, but businesses and decision-makers should understand the benefits of simple yet effective code, not just to save processing costs but also to reduce their energy usage. The transition of thought to green coding practices is not occurring overnight, but businesses with sustainability goals, software engineers, and end-users are starting to understand and experience the benefits.
A 2022 auditor’s report on the use of the computation software shows that green coding has reduced energy costs by around 20 % and cut CO2 emissions by around 100 kilograms per year, providing evidence as to the positive climate impact that can be garnered from adhering to green coding principles.
Many other business operations need to be recalculated and optimised to produce a more positive impact on the environment. Starting from the bottom up, with the construction of coding that informs operations, products and services, businesses can begin to put the right foot forward from the get-go. GFT has trained 90% of our coders in green coding principles, and we hope other businesses can take our guidance on the benefits of enforcing old-school, yet fresh thinking, when it comes to tackling energy efficiency in the future.