Software Carbon Intensity, a standard for evaluating the carbon emissions of software operations | NTT DATA

Tue, 07 December 2021 - 4 min

Software Carbon Intensity, a standard for evaluating the carbon emissions of software operations

NTT DATA, as a GSF Steering Member, worked with other member companies to develop an alpha version of the standard.

Cluj Napoca - Dec 07, 2021 - The Green Software Foundation (GSF*1) has developed “Software Carbon Intensity (SCI*2)”, a standard for evaluating the carbon footprint of software. NTT DATA, as a GSF Steering Member, worked with other member companies to develop an α version of the standard. The SCI enables quantitative assessment of carbon emissions from power and hardware usage in software operations, suggesting actions such as reducing power/hardware usage and improving temporal and geographic efficiency of power usage. It also enables to identify system improvements from the perspective of carbon emissions and develop and operate software technologies with lower environmental impact. NTT DATA will continue to contribute to the carbon neutrality of society by aiming to realize green systems and ICT services through technology development using SCI.

Software Carbon Intensity (*3)
The mission of GSF is to provide a trusted ecosystem of people, standards, tools, and best practices for delivering green software. GSF, led by Accenture, GitHub, Globant, Microsoft, Thoughtworks, and NTT DATA, has developed an α version of Software Carbon Intensity, a standard for calculating the carbon footprint of software. Software Carbon Intensity is a standard that evaluates the carbon footprint using scores based on the usages of power and hardware and the carbon intensity of power usage, which constitute carbon emissions in software operations. Using this criterion, we can compare the environmental impact of operating software with the same functions and understand the effects of modifications made to the software on carbon emissions. It also enables us to select software with low environmental impact and develop software development and operation techniques with low carbon emissions.

Our Future Initiatives 
As an IT service provider, we will propose SCI to the environment/ software-related organizations and companies that we are members of and promote discussions on their utilization and improvement of SCI. We will also continue to work toward the practical application of SCI as a global standard by promoting similar activities in each region in cooperation with group companies globally.

With these activities, we will establish technologies and methodologies for system development and operation with less environmental impact by utilizing the standard that appropriately reflects efforts to reduce carbon emissions in software operations and provide green systems to our customers. In addition, we will actively raise awareness of decarbonization efforts in the software domain, including Software Carbon Intensity, and lead the global effort to realize a sustainable society where the environment and ICT coexist.

Background of SCI development
SCI has been developed based on the following principles of the GSF.

  • The Foundation works through consensus, this means every line in this standard has been created through negotiation and agreement. Everyone gets a voice, this is not the viewpoint of just a few people or a few firms, this is the viewpoint of everyone.
  • It’s designed to work for any type of software application. From a huge enterprise scale distributed cloud application to an open-source mobile game and everything in between.
  • It’s a method of measuring the carbon score of software. It's a score not a total. This is by design and very intentional. Think of it more like a standard to calculate the miles per gallon rating for your car rather than a total carbon emission of your car.
  • The lower a score the better, it’s impossible to get to 0.
  • Its focus is reduction not neutralisation. To improve your SCI score, you need to perform actions that reduce real-world physical emissions, buying offsets doesn’t shortcut you to a better score.
  • It’s consequential, not attributional. Rather than trying to identify who’s responsible for some emissions and pointing the finger at them (attributional) it’s focus is identifying what actions you can take to reduce emissions regardless of who is responsible (consequential).
  • Strong bias toward taking action. Our position is that there are three actions that reduce carbon emissions of software. Using less energy, using less hardware, and using energy more intelligently (carbon awareness). It’s not an accident the SCI incentivises those actions, it’s been designed from the ground up to do so.

Green Software Foundation
The Green Software Foundation is a non-profit organization jointly founded in May 2021 by the Linux Foundation, in collaboration with four companies: Accenture, GitHub, Microsoft, and Thoughtworks. This organization has set as its goal "a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the ICT industry by 2030," a benchmark set via the Paris Agreement, and is working to achieve its mission of establishing the development standards and development tool best practices necessary to reduce CO2 emissions caused by software (green software development) and disseminating these standards and tools throughout the industry. 

NTT Green Innovation toward 2040
NTT group defined its Environment and Energy Vision “NTT Green Innovation toward 2040” on Sep 2021. Under this vision, NTT group aims to reduce 80% of greenhouse gas emitted by NTT group by FY2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by FY2040. NTT group contributes to the goal of Japanese government that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 46% compared to FY2013 by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 through introduction of NTT’s activity and technology to society.

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