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Sustainable Software Engineering

The choices made throughout the engineering process regarding cloud services, software architecture design and automation can have a big impact on the carbon footprint of a solution. Some choices are always beneficial, like turning off unused resources. Other choices require a more nuanced understanding of the business case at hand and its potential carbon impact.


One goal of this section is to provide tangible guidance for what sustainable actions you can apply in certain situations and the tools to be able to implement those recommendations. Another goal is to highlight the many resources available to learn about the wider domain of sustainable software.

Sustainable Engineering Checklist

This checklist should be used to quickly identify scenarios for which common sustainable actions exist. Check the box if the scenario applies to your project, then go through the actions and tools you can use to build more sustainable software for those cases. If there are important nuances to consider, they will be linked in the Disclaimers section.

For readability some considerations are blank, indicating that the action applies to the first consideration above it.

Consideration Action Principle Tools Disclaimers
For any running software/services Shutdown unused resources. Electricity Consumption Identify Unassociated Resources
Resize physical or virtual machines to improve utilization. Energy Proportionality Azure Advisor Cost Recommendations Understanding Advisor Recommendations
For development and testing VMs Configure VMs to shutdown during off-hours Electricity Consumption Start/Stop VMs during off-hours
For VMs with attached volumes Limit the amount of attached storage capacity to what you expect to use and expand as necessary Electricity Consumption Expanding storage of active VMs Understanding the energy cost of storage
For systems using object storage (Azure Blob Storage, AWS S3, GCP Cloud Storage, etc) Compress infrequently accessed data Electricity Consumption, Embodied Carbon Compressing and extracting files in .NET Understanding the energy cost of storage
Delete data when it is no longer needed Electricity Consumption Configuring a lifecycle management policy Understanding the energy cost of storage
For systems running in on-premise data centers Migrate to hyperscale cloud provider Embodied Carbon, Electricity Consumption Cloud Adoption Approaches Carbon benefits of cloud computing
For systems migrating to a hyperscale cloud provider Consider physically shipping data to the provider Networking Azure Data Box Understanding data shipping tradeoffs
For time-flexible workloads Utilize "Spot VMs" for compute Demand Shaping How to use Spot VMs
For services with varied utilization patterns Configure Autoscaling Energy Proportionality Autoscaling Documentation
Use serverless functions Energy Proportionality Serverless Architecture Design
For services with geographically co-located users (EG internal employee apps) Select a data center region that is physically close to them Networking Azure products available by region
Consider running edge devices to reduce excessive data transfer Networking Azure Stack Edge Understanding edge tradeoffs
For systems sending data over the network Use caching policies to keep data on the local machine Networking HTTP caching APIs, Cache Management in .NET Understanding caching tradeoffs
Consider caching data close to end users with a CDN Networking Benefits of a CDN Understanding CDN tradeoffs
Send only the data that will be used Networking
Compress data to reduce the size Networking Compressing and extracting files in .NET
When designing for the end user Consider giving users visibility and control over their energy usage Electricity Consumption Demand Shaping Designing for eco-mode
Design and test your application to be compatible for a wide variety of devices, especially older devices Embodied Carbon Extending device lifespan Compatibility Testing
When selecting a programming language Consider the energy efficiency of languages Electricity Consumption Reasoning about the energy consumption of programming languages, Programming Language Energy Efficiency (PDF) Making informed programming language choices