As tech companies, we develop applications and websites that eventually require consuming loads of electricity, which is generated by fossil fuels like coal products, natural gas, petroleum products, or non-renewable wastes. All of them generate a great amount of CO2, which is the main source of climate change. According to IEA’s report, data centers account for about 1% of the global electricity demand. All the online activities generate about 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The number of digital databases is still growing, and their demand for computing power is also enlarging. What should we do to reduce our carbon footprint and create a greener future and a more sustainable environment?

guide to reduce your software's carbon footprint

1. Optimize the performance of your software

One of the most important aspects that you can take care of in order to reduce your emissions is the efficiency of your digital products. Optimizing their performance, server usage, or data transmission will decrease the energy usage and thus also the environmental footprint. By lowering the energy needed to load your web page or an app, you create more sustainable software. Moreover, emphasizing the efficiency and productivity of websites and applications results not only in a reduction of CO2 footprint but also brings a high-quality user experience. Even minimal changes can cause meaningful differences in the behavior of users. According to Google research, even a 0,5-second delay can cause a 20% decrease in traffic on your website. Besides the environmental impact of their actions, it can also cost your business a lot of lost potential for new customers and in consequence – the company’s income.

By increasing the speed and efficiency of your digital products’ performance you’ll create also a positive impact on the carbon emissions of the end-users. Highly effective digital products = less energy consumption for people in their offices and homes. There are a few tips on how you can improve your software’s performance:

  • Use the Accelerated Mobile Pages framework – they will make the content from your website load faster on the mobile devices thanks to the lack of irrelevant code and file size;
  • Reduce the number of plugins on your website – the more plugins installed, the more resources are needed to run them. You can use the performance tests to check which of them are not necessary anymore or slowing down your website and can be deleted. Keep only those that are fundamental and make sure they are up-to-date;
  • Minimize the number of redirects – they create additional HTTP requests and have a negative influence on the website’s performance. If possible, minimize their number or eliminate them entirely. You can support yourself in identifying them by using scanning tools (for example Screaming Frog tool) and leave only the essential ones.
  • Reduce the server response time – the span of time that your DNS lookup takes is one of the factors that have the biggest influence on how long your page loads. If your DNS is slow, the browsers require more time to locate your website. Change the DNS provider for a quicker one and it will speed up the whole process.

2. Move your software to the cloud

Cloud computing can bring cost savings but also it’s a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of software. Even a partial migration to the cloud can reduce your costs by up to 30% of the total costs of having your own infrastructure. It’s caused by a greater elasticity and optimal usage of servers and energy-saving infrastructure. Moreover, it can reduce carbon emissions by about 84%! And contribute to significant environmental change in a bigger picture and getting closer to net zero. 

guide to reduce your software's carbon footprint

Cloud computing gives the ability to use the resources only when they are needed – as a result, it lowers the power consumption. The additional advantage of cloud-based solutions is scaling. The large data centers run by the big cloud providers are highly efficient.

3. Compress the size of your files

In order to reduce your software’s carbon footprint, you can also focus on deleting unnecessary animations or outdated codes from your software development. A good practice is also to use the most optimal file formats, such as the WebP image format. It reduces the images by about 26% in comparison to PNG and by about 30% compared to JPEG images. The heavier your files are, the more amount of data is transferred and great electricity consumption. That in turn leads to loads of emissions caused.

4. Change the inefficient programming language

Not all programming languages require the same amount of consuming energy as other ones. As software developers, you can apply practices of green software development by choosing the more energy-efficient languages. According to research conducted by Github, there are significant differences in energy consumption of the 27 languages which they examined. From the group of scripting languages, for example, PHP language uses about 7 times more energy than Javascript. Javascript works pretty well as a web language. One of the most efficient languages is C or C++.

5. Use green hosting services

One of the most crucial decisions you can make in order to reduce your carbon footprint is to choose a renewable energy-driven web host. The impact of proper selection of a web hosting provider on energy efficiency and website performance is tremendous. The fundamental way how green hosting services contribute to a sustainable environment is through renewable energy or carbon offsets. Renewable energy is generated with the usage of natural resources such as water, wind, or sunlight. They refill completely naturally and their recycling doesn’t require burning fossil fuels. As a result, we receive efficient and clean energy.

guide to reduce your software's carbon footprint

6. Cache files on the user’s device thanks to PWA

Progressive Web App is a web-based application designed to run on any platform, regardless of its type – desktop or mobile device. This solution can be very beneficial because of the ability to cache files on the user’s device. In consequence, the amount of data loaded rapidly decreases and helps to reduce CO2 emissions.

7. Introduce a sustainable SEO strategy

Contrary to appearances, a good SEO strategy may have a strong impact on the environment and also plays a big role in carbon reduction. A more accurate internet search leads users to pages and content that fit their needs and questions and they consume less energy looking for the needed information. You can read more tips on developing a sustainable SEO strategy here.


Do you want to find out more ways of reducing your software's carbon footprint?

Talk to us!

Let’s make software green and combat climate change!

Small steps taken by the tech companies and developers can effectively reduce the amount of carbon and lead to a healthier and greener world in the bigger picture. Besides the above-mentioned methods, you can discover more of them in our previous blog post about how to reduce a new website’s carbon footprint.