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Michael Tharrington for The DEV Team

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Featured Org of the Month: Green Software Foundation

We're back with another entry in our new series Featured Org of the Month! Below we interview the folks at the Green Software Foundation whom we chose to spotlight for April.

We're proud to have a wide range of orgs in our community — companies, non-profits, students & teachers, open-source contributors, and groups of like-minded friends. Each month we choose a different org to feature so that our community can learn a little bit more about the amazing people and organizations out there doing cool things in our industry!

Without further adieu, let's talk about this month's featured org...

Introducing the Green Software Foundation 🙌

For April, and in honor of Earth Day, we decided to put the focus on the Green Software Foundation or GSF. 🌏🌎🌍

Without giving too much away from the interview, GSF is a non-profit represented by professionals from multiple different tech organizations. They have many active projects and helpful resources for folks who are interested in green software and sustainability practices in programming.

A special shoutout to org members Asim Hussain (@jawache) and Namrata Narayan. The answers are credited to Green Software Foundation, but these two awesome folks coordinated answering/getting answers to my questions below!

The Interview

Michael Tharrington: What exactly does “green software” mean and what inspires you all at the Green Software Foundation about this movement?

Green Software Foundation (GSF): We describe green software as software which is carbon efficient.

Everything we do emits carbon, breathing emits carbon, so our goal is to get the most value out of every gram of carbon that's emitted, we call that carbon efficiency.

There are three ways we recognise as being carbon efficient,

  • being energy efficient: consuming the least amount of electricity possible (since most electricity is still created through the burning of fossil fuels)
  • being hardware efficient: Use the least amount of embodied carbon possible (which in the cloud space means trying to max out the servers you are using, and in the end user device space means reducing software obsolescence - which is when people have to buy new hardware not because it's broken, but because the software they want to run just doesn't work on their device anymore)
  • being carbon aware: doing more when the electricity is clean and less when the electricity is dirty.

We're all software practitioners, all of the people engaged in our projects are people who are actively working "at the coalface" to pick an apt analogy, in their organizations to drive down the emissions of software.

As people in the software space we have an outsized impact we can make, most people in the world can only impact themselves, their personal footprint, but as software practitioners the work we can do can impact everyone.

There are maybe 30 million software practitioners in the world, we think you only have to engage 3% of them to change an industry so that's 1 million. That's 1 million people who can have an impact on what some estimate will be 14% of global emissions by 2040. That's a huge opportunity, very few other areas are there so few people that are needed to have such a large impact. That's what drives us, because we more than most, can have a positive meaningful impact on the biggest problem humanity has ever faced.

Michael: Who are the leaders behind GSF? What is the structure of the organization like? And what (if any) organizations do y’all have connections to?

GSF: Our leadership and direction are guided by a Steering Committee. Currently, our leadership committee includes Accenture, Avanade, BCG X, GitHub, Globant, Intel, Microsoft, NTT DATA, Siemens, and UBS. As well as our Steering Committee we have 50+ general members, you can find our full list on our homepage here:

What we do at the GSF is create an environment where they can all collaborate. I tell potential members there is no need to join to get access to anything, we are not a consultancy, we don't directly help you reduce emissions. Everything we do is open source and creative commons so you can collaborate on our projects without joining also, it's all public and available online. The only reason to join is to lead the green software space and set its direction, chair working groups, lead projects, collaborate directly with other member orgs on green software initiatives, and be the thought leaders.

All of our deliverables are really works of collaboration, what we do at the GSF is create an environment where that collaboration can happen and support that work to help them deliver. But all of our projects have been driven through volunteers from our member organizations.

We have 4 working groups focussed on different areas, standards, policy, open source and community.

And within those working groups we have various projects related to the working group.

We also have committees focussed on specific technical domains that are more cross cutting, and look at the problem horizontally across standards, open source, policy and community.

Michael: On a pragmatic level, how can devs integrate green practices into their development processes?

GSF: We talk about the measure, learn, reduce cycle.

First of you have to measure, but measure in such a way that it surfaces actions that you can take. I can talk for days about measurement. It's a very nuanced and advanced topic, far more important than most people think. How you measure can change dramatically where effort is spent. Personally how I think we change the word is through measurement, it happened in the past many times, the metric system came from the french revolution for instance - measurement is our most powerful tool for change.

We developed a measurement specification just for software called the Software Carbon Intensity which has just been published to ISO and recognised by them as an International Standard.

To actually measure in a practical way you need tooling, for that we developed the Impact Framework, an open source tool which helps you induce observations, into environmental impacts like SCI but also water, land use, displacement of people, it’s got wide applicability.

The next step is learn, this is more of a cycle though, you could start with learn ;) we have training that we created which you can find at To date over 70,000 people have completed this training. It’s what we recommend to get the foundational knowledge so you can start communicating with others on this topic and understanding your levers for change.

The next step is reduce, this is a wide open space and really depends on each team, application, domain. There are a few approaches to reduce that are universal though and one of them is carbon aware computing, it’s not for every type of software application but if yours is one that has some flexibility as to when and where it runs you can take advantage of lower carbon energy to reduce your carbon footprint with minimal investment. In this space we have the Carbon Aware SDK ( to help people add carbon awareness functionality to their software easily.

Michael: Looking at GSF’s project list and GitHub presence, y’all have a lot going on! Can you tell us about a few of these projects and repos that y’all are maintaining (e.g. Awesome Green Software)? What might folks in the community work on, make use of, or otherwise find interesting?

GSF: We’ve got a variety of projects underway which I’ve mentioned above.

Right now, I am most excited about Impact Framework–a software measurement tool to compute and report the environmental impacts of software applications. Unlike other measurement tools, Impact Framework prioritizes actionable insights over reporting. It takes observable metrics associated with running systems, such as CPU utilization, page views, or number of installs, and converts them into environmental impacts like carbon, water, energy, and air quality in an auditable, replicable, verifiable, and transparent way.

Impact Framework grants everyone the freedom to participate, question, and refine. It allows us to hold each other accountable and ensure the data we are using to assess the impact of software is accurate.

We recently held a hackathon around software measurement with impact framework, and you can read about some of the winners here: We even had an Under 18s prize and they blew me away, very much recommending checking out their solution.

Given Carbon Hack’s success, we’ve launched a public Google group to invite everyone to contribute to the tool and be watchers–watchers choose to observe impacts, verify findings, challenge assumptions, and measure observable metrics!

Anyone interested can visit

Michael: Speaking of the community, how do y’all connect with folks? Is there anything DEV members can do to get involved further with your organization?

All of our work is Open Source, so really the best way to get involved is just to go to the associated repository, look at the issues, and raise a discussion. But we understand it can be a bit daunting (we’ve got some plans to make how to collaborate more transparent).

GSF: We've created an open Discussions Forum on GitHub that's accessible to everyone. Anyone interested in reaching us or the organizations in our ecosystem should join us on GitHub and introduce themselves.

We also have a growing community of subscribers we connect with weekly through a newsletter. If you're passionate about green software and want to contribute to the movement, subscribe to our newsletter at!

We also have a growing meetup network at, that’s another great way to connect and meet like-minded people. If people are looking to launch their own meetup groups we’re happy to support however we can.

We also organize events each year to bring everyone together, discuss the state of green software, and identify what’s working, what’s preventing us from increasing adoption, and, most importantly, honor the people and advancements driving our mission forward. Carbon Hack, which just ended, and Decarbonize Software are two of our flagship events.

Michael: What do y’all see as the biggest obstacle for green software? And, what can we do as a diverse community of software developers to help you all make a difference?

GSF: It’s measurement, full stop. By far the best thing you can do is to help normalize the act of measuring software emissions using the SCI. We designed the SCI so the only way you can reduce your score is to engineer better solutions, you can’t offset your way to a better score. So it drives the right kinds of actions, actions that eliminate emissions.

I’d ask people to take a very close look at both the SCI and Impact Framework, try out the tool, give us feedback, and contribute.

Our big goal for the rest of this year is to get as many open source projects as possible measuring their own emissions. If we can get the open source community to be transparent about their emissions, I think that will act as a catalyst for the rest of the industry to measure their software emissions. I strongly believe that our path to a solution lies through open source, both in terms of tooling, but also the community and the people - in a way we’re all fighting the same battle.

If people are specifically interested in that then I’d recommend they check out and join our google group which is where we’ll be organizing the effort. We’re calling it SCI FI day, the acronyms line up close enough for me. ;)

Wrap up

Thanks so much for reading! We appreciate you taking the time to learn about another awesome DEV org. 💚

Stay tuned for future mod interviews in this series!

Top comments (1)

philiphow profile image
Philip How

Great interview - I'm definitely going to check out their projects.

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