What is green coding? In this article, we will discuss the principles of green software development and how Elixir can help you write more sustainable code.

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    Green coding is a term used in the software industry to describe programming practices that minimize energy consumption. We can find specific techniques, tools and programming languages that help reduce energy consumption. In this article, we will discuss the principles of green software development and how Elixir can help you write more sustainable code.

    Introduction to green coding

    Surrounded by software developers, I witnessed many discussions about the architecture of coding and how "clean coding" is critical to performance. Today, I would like to approach programming with an element of sustainable development, touching on the basics of "green coding".

    Green software is a term popularized recently due to environmental intent and refers to programming code that was written to create algorithms with minimal energy consumption.

    Green coding is the practice of using energy-efficient tools and practices in programming. In a world constrained by its limited resources, eco-designed coding would provide companies with significantly higher IT performance. In recent years, there has been an increased focus on making coding more energy efficient or "green". The goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of coding and make it more environmentally friendly.

    But let's be clear: you need to be realistic in assessing whether a given technology is ecological or not. Because, of course, if we compare Erlang or Elixir to C, it will turn out that the code in C will be faster and will use less energy to perform exactly the same calculation. But suppose you insist on creating even a medium-sized web application in C. In that case, everything is theoretically possible, but programmers would have to be a "small army" working on something that consumes energy, after all.

    In this article, I will not try to energetically balance between those languages because the artificial benchmarks that compare programming languages do not reflect what can be seen in real case studies (that show us how changing the technology in an application can change its "energy" on many surfaces). Apart from that, I want to show a different view on this subject, from a different perspective and also give examples of specific brands that confirm our thesis. This is not an academic article or research paper. This is a business article in which we will explain that the research data we have, are made in a specific methodology. And this methodology has nothing to do with projects in which we work, so the languages ​​on which we base our activities fall out as ECO for completely different reasons.

    green software foundation

    Green Coding: Environmental Sustainability in Software

    When most people think about sustainability, they consider conserving energy or recycling. But what about sustainability in the digital world? Green software is a relatively new concept that refers to sustainable practices in software engineering. In other words, it's all about ensuring that our digital products and services are eco-friendly.

    So why is green coding important? For one thing, the digital world is growing at an unprecedented rate. By 2025, it is estimated that there will be 175 zettabytes* of digital data in the world (*a zettabyte is a unit of information or computing storage equal to one sextillion bytes). That's a lot of data! And all that data takes up a lot of energy to store and process. In fact, it is estimated that the ICT sector currently accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. But by 2050, that number is expected to increase to 14%.

    Simply put, we need to start paying attention to the energy consumption of our digital products and services. And green coding is one way to do that.

    eight principles of green software engineering

    One of the advantages of green coding is that it ensures quality: fewer server executions and less memory consumption guarantee much faster response times. Future websites or applications should be designed by companies that better accommodate these new limitations.

    Green apps are usually cheaper in use, more efficient, more resilient, and optimized - but that's just a welcome addition. The bottom line is that developing applications in this way will have a positive impact on the planet.

    Discussion around green software

    I must admit that bringing up the topic of "green coding" during small talk in our company caused quite a big discussion. For some of our developers, energy-efficient software is practically synonymous with the phrase "cheap to run" software, but simply with the ideology of environmental protection attached. There is no doubt that, after all, each programming language is created with the thought of performing a specific computational task in the least number of machine cycles (which translates into energy consumption). For any language, this is a fundamental issue.

    Different languages ​​may have different efficiencies for various tasks and cases, equipment working conditions and, above all, the same type and quality of equipment. Therefore, making such measurements in a reliable and "fair" way for the programming languages is very problematic.

    For some, the whole Green Coding can be a synonym for efficient programming, which has always been pursued in programming applications and software. And the fact that it is not a standard in IT (switching to "slower" languages ​​than compiled to machine code) is usually a compromise between the efficiency and the time of developing software according to customer expectations.

    However, for the moment, let's throw away these beliefs and try to approach the subject as matter-of-fact as possible.

    Software Engineers against Electricity Consumption and Carbon Emissions!

    Sustainability efforts in software engineering are perhaps a novel integrative feature. We can think of sustainability as a soft constraint that would need to be met by our code. So, what would it mean for code to be sustainable?

    It would need to be functional with low energy consumption throughout its lifecycle - from development to testing to user experience. There are two main types of green coding: structural and behavioural. Structural considerations would encompass the energy measures related to code blocks (units of code), whereas behavioural considerations, on the other hand, focuses on the energy consumption related to user scenarios such as sending an email, filling the forms or checking social media channels. I think that we can also include here the work and time of the developers.

    Structural & Behavioral Considerations for Green Coding

    Sustainability is essential for all aspects of our lives, including software development. By considering both the structural and behavioural factors of our code, we can make sure that our software is easy to develop, maintain, and use while also reducing its carbon footprint.

    Structural Green Software Development - Managing Energy Consumption

    When we think about the structural aspects of our code, we should consider the readability and reusability of our code blocks. Readability can be improved by using consistent coding styles and comments. Furthermore, well-designed code is often more reusable, which leads to less duplication and, eventually, fewer carbon emissions during development. One way of thinking about reusability is the DRY principle - Don't Repeat Yourself. This means that we should avoid writing duplicate code or having duplicate configuration files.

    Behavioural Considerations for Green Coding

    From a behavioural perspective, we should consider the number of user interactions and the amount of data processing that occurs in our software. If our software requires a lot of data processing, it will likely have a larger carbon footprint. We can reduce user interactions by ensuring that our software is easy to use and understand. Furthermore, we can limit the amount of data processing by caching data or using techniques like lazy loading.

    It all starts with a better user experience. Whether it's your website or mobile application, the more intuitive a resource is, the less time a user spends searching for information. Less time means more energy savings. But let's be honest - these are not only ecological issues. These are the quality of the application itself.

    Our app can also achieve energy efficiency by simply using less space on the servers or on the device it is made for. A few coding examples, rewritten for user experience, are synonymous with low server space (for example, Pinterest in 2014 decided to transform technology from Python to Elixir to deliver 14,000 notifications per second across 15 servers - for comparison, the previous Java system used as many as 30 servers). This is because applications written for specific devices or intuitive to users also have an inherently lower energy requirement.

    What Are The Benefits of Green Software Engineering?

    Climate change is one of the most significant challenges to humanity and our lives, and as software and application developers, we can play a role here. We all need to be on board to encourage and assist everyone in creating and implementing sustainable applications.

    Green software engineering has many benefits, both for businesses and the environment. For one, it can help reduce your company's carbon footprint and make it more environmentally friendly and sustainable in the long run. It can also foster brand loyalty and resilience by showing that you care about environmental issues. Additionally, green coding can lead to more energy-efficient systems and reduce carbon emissions. Implementing sustainable practices can help businesses save money, compete in a global market, and attract and retain top talent.

    For example, let's say a company wanted to decrease its carbon footprint by 10%. To do this, they could switch to renewable energy sources or implement energy-efficient practices like green coding. If they chose the latter option, they would not only reduce their carbon footprint but could also save money on their energy bill—a win-win!

    In addition, as consumers become more aware of sustainability issues, they are increasingly looking for eco-friendly products and services. By green-coding their products and services, businesses can show consumers that they care about being sustainable and can ultimately gain a competitive advantage in the market.

    Finally, implementing sustainable practices can help businesses attract and retain top talent. Many millennials are passionate about environmental causes and want to work for companies that share these kinds of values.

    Interestingly, many of the tools and practices associated with green coding also happen to be more energy-efficient. This means that green coding is not only good for the environment but can also help save you money in the long run. Programming languages such as Elixir or Haskell (functional programming languages), designed to be as lightweight as possible, could also be the tools used to be more green in coding.

    So why not give green coding a try? As we enter the digital age, we must start paying attention to the environmental impact of our online products and services. Start green-coding today!

    Green software engineering: sustainability principles for business

    Energy-efficient tools and practices for green software engineering

    Environmental awareness is on the rise, and with good reason. The effects of climate change are becoming more and more apparent, and it's up to us to do our part to mitigate its impact. But as it turns out, as developers, we have a unique opportunity to make a difference by writing code that is energy efficient. In addition, we can reduce our carbon footprint by using green software development practices and fostering brand loyalty among our users.

    The use of energy-efficient tools and practices in coding has the side effect of energy efficiency. When it comes to developing the web or creating apps, a few different approaches can be taken to make the process more environmentally friendly or "green". Interestingly, even some of the most loved programming languages, such as Rust, Elixir, Scala, and Go, are designed with energy efficiency in mind to be lightweight and efficient. So by simply using these languages, we're already making a difference!

    Energy measurements - electricity consumption

    In addition, developers can also use energy measurement tools to track the efficiency of their applications. By using these energy-efficient tools and practices, developers can help reduce their software applications' carbon footprint.

    Data centre design

    Another way to approach green software development is by using tools and practices that help reduce the process's carbon footprint—for example, using energy-efficient servers and choosing to host in green data centres. Efficient servers require less energy to run, which helps reduce the carbon footprint. Green Data Centers use sustainable energy sources like solar and wind power. They also often employ other green practices, such as using recycled materials in construction. Green hosting providers offer services using renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power. In some cases, green hosting providers also offset their carbon emissions by planting trees or investing in other carbon-reducing projects.

    Emerging discipline in the IT industry

    Additionally, recycling code and reusing components where possible can help to reduce waste.

    By taking a green approach to software development, we can help reduce our industry's impact on the environment. This is not only good for the planet but can also help to foster brand loyalty and resilience.

    Of course, we can do more to reduce our impact on growing the greenhouse effect. Using energy-efficient tools and practices in our coding can make a big difference in the fight against climate change.

    If you're looking to green your software development practices, be sure to consider using some of these energy-efficient tools and techniques. By doing so, you'll not only be helping the environment, but you'll also be helping to improve the efficiency of your software applications.

    So let's do our part to ensure our code is as green as possible. It's up to us to make a difference! Do you have any tips for green software development? Please share them with us in the comments below!

    Programming languages for green web and app development

    When developing for the web or creating apps, a few different approaches can be taken to make the process more environmentally friendly or "green". One way is to develop using programming languages designed to be lightweight and energy efficient. Examples include Elixir programming language, even though it is hard to find resources describing Elixir specifically as an eco-friendly programming language.

    Why it is like that, I explained in the Intro of this article, but it is worth noting here again that we can not find Elixir in the comparisons on which programming languages use the least electricity. Why? Because such benchmarks are carried out using rough mathematical calculations to which Elixir and Erlang were not created. It's hard to compare such Rust or C, which were created with calculations, to the Elixir technology in mind, which works great, for example, when scaling the application.

    Many software engineers say that good code in all languages is inherently "green" because it enables high performance. However, the lack of examples specifically addressing environmental friendliness in coding does not illustrate the lack of concern for the environment. In fact, coding led to the development of green software engineering and environmentally friendly applications, and it could be argued that code often creates efficient replacements for real-world processes. But we should not only consider here the languages widely described in the Rankings of Programming Languages by Energy Efficiency.

    Even if we consider Ruby present in such comparison tables (often presented as a competitor to Elixir), Ruby gets a hard time as soon as we start talking about the scalability of, for example, web servers. What is important here is this particular area of using Elixir and the issue of light-weight processes. Ruby will "eat up" the server's resources several times faster because of how creating new processes works there. And in this context, Erlang and Elixir can be treated as "eco-friendly" languages. Nobody in their daily work uses these languages ​​to compute a Fibonacci sequence or functions that have time-critical constraints (here, think of using C, C ++ or Rust). Elixir will work there, where we need to process many processes in parallel. The web server is a very good example of this. As I wrote before - you can make a server in C, but no one will do it because this language was not designed for this domain, and as a result, a bigger team would have to work on it for a much, much longer period of time (which, of course, also has implications for energy consumption).

    So to find a programming language that will manage energy resources most effectively, you first need to start with the problem you want to solve. In my opinion, Elixir can be in TOP if we are talking about the domain for which it was created.

    Green Coding: Elixir Language and Sustainable Development

    Elixir is based on Erlang and its virtual machine. Thanks to this characteristic, it uses lightweight processes that consume very little memory and CPU resources, as well as leverages OTP to process tasks in parallel. These features make Elixir an excellent programming language for green coding philosophy whenever we talk about concurrent processing (a web server is a great example of such a use case).

    Elixir - sustainable and energy efficiency language for green web development?

    Elixir is a dynamic, functional language designed for building scalable and maintainable applications. Elixir technology can be "lightweight" or ECO in this context for several reasons. Sustainable technology means here faster code writing, fewer lines, good libraries, so... lower energy consumption, for example, through less consumption on servers, more immediate replies from the database, and thus again - lower energy consumption. Let's try to describe it a bit more precisely.

    Elixir leverages the Erlang VM, known for running low-resource processes with high availability. As a result, Elixir is an excellent choice for developing green web applications.

    Elixir was designed to bring simplicity, clarity and efficiency to programming. These kinds of languages result in less code needed to build an application, and as a result, fewer human resources are needed to develop it. In the end, developers' computers also produce a carbon footprint, and reducing the time spent on coding makes the whole process energy efficient.

    sustainable software for business

    Ecological coding is also about code that is easy to read, well-organized, and runs efficiently - requiring fewer computing cycles and less electricity to run. One of the most important principles of green coding is to write code that is easy to maintain. This means writing code that is readable and understandable. Elixir code is written in a clear and concise syntax. This makes it easy to read and understand. It also makes it easy to refactor and maintain your code over time.

    This not only reduces emissions but can also save companies money.

    Software performance is something that is often paid attention to, but rather in terms of saving unnecessary database queries or avoiding excessive iterations in the context of subsequent scalability.

    Another vital principle of green coding is to write well-tested code. This ensures that your code will be reliable and bug-free. Elixir comes with excellent testing tools built in. These tools make it easy to write comprehensive tests for your code. This can save you time and energy in the long run by preventing bugs from slipping into your production code.

    Finally, green coding means writing code that is easy to reuse. This can save you time and energy in the long run by avoiding the need to rewrite existing code. Elixir comes with a rich set of libraries that make it easy to reuse code. These libraries can save time and effort by providing ready-made solutions to common problems.

    In summary, Elixir is an excellent choice for those looking to minimize their energy consumption when coding (if we are still talking about systems in which things happen in parallel, e.g. web apps). As a result, Elixir can help you reduce your carbon footprint and save money on energy costs.

    Is Elixir software development carbon efficient?

    By using more sustainable practices during web development, such as green hosting and others (which we mentioned and described above), it's possible to create applications that have a smaller environmental impact. And by using energy-efficient programming languages, like Elixir, it's possible to develop green web applications that are also scalable and reliable.

    So, if you're looking for a sustainable and green language, Elixir is a great choice. It's lightweight, eco-friendly, well-tested, and easy to reuse (but we must remember that Elixir is eco only in those domains for which it was created). And if you want to create a sustainable web application, consider using Elixir programming language and green hosting services. These two choices will help you develop a green web application that is efficient, reliable, and environmentally friendly.

    What more could you ask for?

    custom software elixir development

    Conclusion: why you should start green coding today!

    As you can see, developing software can positively impact the environment. Green coding, or writing code that is responsible for emitting fewer greenhouse gases, is a great way to be more environmentally friendly. And, it's not as difficult as you might think. In fact, green software systems tend to be more straightforward and energy-efficient.

    Developing software responsibly doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming. You can make a big difference by simply using energy-efficient tools and practices.

    At the end of the day, it's up to each individual software engineer to make the conscious decision to develop in a way that is not only energy efficient but also environmentally responsible. So why not start green software engineering? You might be surprised at how easy it is to make a difference.

    What are your thoughts on green software development? Have you taken any steps to make your own process more environmentally friendly? Do you have any green coding tips? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

    For more information on Elixir, check out our other blog posts about this language. And if you enjoyed this article, please share it and follow us to stay up-to-date on future blog posts! Thank you for reading!


    What is Green Coding?

    Green coding is the practice of writing software that minimizes energy consumption, contributing to environmental sustainability.

    Why is Green Coding Important?

    With digital data and services expanding rapidly, reducing the energy consumption of digital products is crucial to reduce their carbon footprint.

    What are the Key Principles of Green Software Development?

    Principles include reducing server executions, minimizing memory consumption, and ensuring efficient data processing for better sustainability.

    How Can Software Engineers Contribute to Green Coding?

    By focusing on energy-efficient coding practices, using green software engineering tools, and considering the energy consumption of their code.

    What are Some Energy-Efficient Programming Languages?

    Languages like Elixir and Haskell, known for being lightweight, are considered more energy-efficient compared to others.

    How Does Green Coding Improve Software Quality?

    Green coding practices lead to more efficient, faster, and more reliable software, enhancing overall user experience.

    How Can Green Coding Impact a Business?

    It can reduce operational costs, lower carbon footprint, and improve brand loyalty by demonstrating commitment to environmental sustainability.

    Natalia Szydłowska
    Natalia Szydłowska Marketing Specialist

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