This year, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP27, is happening in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. As a part of Globant’s public commitments through our Be Kind to the Planet team, we see this event as the opportunity to reinforce our duty to climate action, comparing innovation and effort concerning our Glasgow presence at COP26.
For us, a thriving company is a sustainable one. Globant is committed to applying intuitive and agile technologies to achieve sustainable development and support organizations’ transformation to a low-carbon infrastructure.
We understand technology’s impact on the environment and share the responsibility to invest in making our products and software greener. That’s why last year, we joined the Green Software Foundation steering committee, an institution of global organizations committed to creating best practices for building sustainable software to reduce carbon footprints.
As part of our commitment, in 2022, we sponsored the Green Software Foundation’s Hackathon and its call to build the most innovative carbon-aware software solutions that optimize operation when electricity is clean, such as charging batteries during the day with solar production.
The importance of green tech
Today, when defining projects, plans, and strategies, we need to adopt a carbon-oriented mindset and a planet-centered tech design approach, to support transitions and curb emissions in every action we take at every industry level.
We are getting ready for a fundamental shift in how the IT industry applies to design, data, infrastructure, and software development with a new reduced energy consumption and a more energy efficient way of designing and developing software.
Some IT organizations may claim that the energy impact of what they create is relatively insignificant compared to other carbon-intensive industrial activities and only focus their sustainability efforts on a shift towards renewable energy sources and matrix. At Globant, we believe it is our responsibility to quantify and consider carbon-equivalent emissions of every single action we perform as an end-to-end digitally native company.
To put industries in perspective, roughly 70% of people globally use a digital device, yet only 10% take flights – and just the wealthiest 1% are frequent flyers!
Given the exponential increase in digital devices, products, and services across every aspect of our lives, businesses need to reduce the everyday energy consumption of the software designed and built. Let’s get ready for the challenge of creating more sustainable digital ecosystems that will lead to company sustainability.
‘Digital Sobriety’ as a necessary approach
One approach is that of ‘Digital Sobriety,’ a novel way to reduce the impact of digital technology by developing more energy-efficient digital products and services and helping consumers moderate the daily use of digital devices to reduce the overall emissions impact of digitalization.
Shaving off a single kB in a file loaded on 2 million websites, for example – assuming each website receives exactly one unique visitor – reduces CO2 emissions by an estimated 2950 kg CO2e per month.
The role of technology is altogether that of an accelerator for every decarbonization industry-wide effort. Without technology enhancements, reaching NetZero’s global goals by 2050 is impossible.
So, what may a Digital Sobriety methodology look like in practice? While the first principle of the ‘Green Software Engineering’ manifesto asks to build carbon-efficient applications, the second one states, “Electricity: Build applications that are energy efficient.”
To do so, we first need to measure the energy applications consume, known as energy cost. Once energy costs of our applications are known, we can then explore how to progress their energy efficiency and quantify the impact of these changes over time.
For example, determining if the energy efficiency factor of an application has increased after a new release introduces a positive change, making the application “soberer” as we have reduced its energy consumption levels. On the contrary, if the energy efficiency factor has decreased, reviewing the impact of changes on the following releases will be a must.
Using a sustainability lens to look at existing development toolboxes,including best practices, code-complexity analysis, performance optimization, and mathematical models,we can embed the Digital Sobriety methodology into our development cycles as a new, additional dimension of software development. We believe all organizations will have ‘Digital Sobriety KPIs’ soon incorporated into their continuous integration and delivery pipeline.
To create more sustainable digital ecosystems, tech organizations need to:
- Optimize how they design, construct and run the software to consume less energy per used time. E.g., Digital interfaces use less energy-intensive colors, demand less processing power, and make better use of the end-to-end technology ecosystem.
- Invent more efficient software that can dynamically reduce energy consumption based on the context of its environment and use – e.g., ‘low energy mode’ for software.
- Empower other IT organizations by sharing the tools and methodologies so all organizations can more accurately illustrate the energy impact of what they produce and, in turn, create more efficient versions.
So that’s why we are standing at the Green Software Foundation hackathon, understanding that carbon and energy efficiency lenses are a must for any digital solution and at the start of any project.
All of this implies a necessary cultural and governance change in the industry. At Globant, we are already doing it, supporting our commitment to the greater good and creating a better world.