Two philosophies of Sustainable Software Engineering

August 17, 2020

Two philosophies of Sustainable Software Engineering

Sustainable Software Engineering is an emerging discipline at the intersection of climate science, software, hardware, electricity markets, and data center design. The Principles of Sustainable Software Engineering are a core set of competencies needed to define, build, and run sustainable software applications. You can find more about the 8 principles at or in future blog posts.

Alongside the 8 principles of Sustainable Software Engineering, there are 2 philosophies. For many of us, sustainability is more than a task. It’s a purpose and a movement. Where does Sustainable Software Engineering sit in that broader sustainability movement?

Everyone has a part to play in the climate solution

The first philosophy is that everyone has a part to play in the climate solution. According to a report by the advertising agency, Ogilvy, in 2010, called Mainstream Green, 16% of people identify as Super Green. From the report: “People in this group enjoy a positive energy fueling their lives. They understand the problems the environment faces yet remain optimistic about the future and are willing to lead the way in solving some of these issues.”

So if you are reading this blog post and identify as Super Green, know you are not alone. In fact, you are part of a massive global movement of people who care and take action.

In the past, we have focused too much attention on the small percentage of engineering roles that can have the most significant climate impact. However, super greens work in every discipline across engineering, from designing silicon to designing user experiences.

Nothing happens in isolation, everything is connected, and small changes lead to big changes. Even the act of normalizing a discussion about sustainability in technical meetings will empower others to raise their voice. That’s how you create change in any organization.

As Sustainable Software Engineers, we believe that everyone has a part to play in the climate solution. Sustainable Software Engineering is inclusive. Whatever sector, industry, role, technology – there is always something you can do to have an impact.

Sustainability is enough to justify our work

The second philosophy is that sustainability is enough, all by itself, to justify our work.

In the past, we had to wrap sustainability in little pills to make it easier to swallow. Just doing something for the sake of sustainability was not enough.

As Sustainable Software Engineers, we recognize there are many advantages to building sustainable applications. They are almost always cheaper, they are often more performant, they are often more resilient. But the primary reason we are practicing SSE is for sustainability, everything else is an added advantage.

Originally published on Microsoft Dev Blog