Software practitioner in front of a computer studying best practices for sustainability.

21 best practices for sustainable software development

Sustainability is not only about environmental protection, but also about social and economic aspects. Sustainability is also playing an increasingly important role in software development. Software is ubiquitous. It controls not only computers and smartphones, but also cars, houses (smart home), and devices of all kinds (IoT). In the process, software consumes energy and resources, which in turn has an impact on the environment. For example, through the energy consumption of data centers. Software can be discriminatory and violate the privacy of users as well as threaten social security jobs and lead to injustice. These are just a few examples. To address these challenges, there are best practices for sustainable software development.

In this article, we present 21 such best practices. They can be applied by software practitioners and software companies to promote sustainable software development. From code optimization to the use of sustainable technologies, we will present different approaches to improve sustainability in software development.

Code optimization

1. Use of efficient algorithms: Choosing the right algorithm can make a big difference in energy and resource consumption. Efficient algorithms are faster and require less memory, which has a positive impact on performance and sustainability.

2. Use caching techniques: caching can improve performance and reduce energy consumption. By storing data in a cache, frequent data accesses can be avoided. This reduces computing time and energy consumption decreases.

3. Reduce unnecessary dependencies: Dependencies can affect performance and sustainability. The more dependencies a software has, the more complex it becomes and the more resources and energy it requires. Reducing unnecessary dependencies can make the software leaner and more efficient.

4. Avoid redundant code: Redundant code can affect the maintainability and sustainability of a software. By avoiding redundant code, developers can improve maintainability and reduce energy consumption.

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Efficient use of resources

5. Optimization of server and database operation: Servers and databases can consume large amounts of energy. By optimizing server and database operations, developers can reduce energy consumption. This can be achieved by using efficient algorithms, minimizing unnecessary queries and implementing caching techniques.

6. Efficient use of cloud services: Cloud services can be an efficient and scalable alternative to traditional servers. By using cloud services, developers can reduce energy consumption, as cloud providers usually use energy-efficient infrastructures. However, care should be taken to ensure that only the necessary resources are used and that there is no unnecessary waste of resources.

7. Use virtualization: Virtualization makes it possible to run multiple virtual machines on one physical server. This allows developers to reduce energy consumption as fewer physical servers are needed. By using container technologies like Docker, you can also further improve the efficiency of resource usage.

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Waste avoidance

8. Agile methods: Agile methods encourage continuous collaboration and communication between developers, customers, and other stakeholders. This helps you avoid unnecessary features and prioritize requirements more efficiently.

9. Avoid excessive test cycles: Excessive test cycles can waste time and resources. It is important to limit testing to what is necessary and ensure that it is done effectively and efficiently.

10. Reduce e-waste: There are several ways to deal with e-waste in an environmentally friendly way: Recycling, reuse, donation, and proper disposal. Here are some ways.

Use of sustainable technologies

11. Renewable energy: Companies can use renewable energy such as solar power, wind power or hydropower to help power data centers and other infrastructure. By doing so, you reduce the carbon footprint and reduce the environmental impact.

12. Cloud Computing: We’ve already mentioned this best practice above, but because it’s so important, here’s a second time.

13. Virtualization: Virtualization technologies can also help reduce energy consumption by allowing multiple virtual machines to run on a physical hardware platform. This allows you to reduce the number of physical servers required, which in turn reduces energy consumption and environmental impact.

Ethics consideration

14. Data protection: Software Companies should ensure that they comply with data protection regulations and protect their users’ data. By protecting the privacy and data of their users, companies can gain the trust and loyalty of their customers.

15. Avoiding bias and discrimination: Software products and services can be influenced by bias or discrimination. To prevent this, they should ensure that their data and algorithms are fair and balanced and that they do not rely on biases or stereotypes. A term to keep in mind: Inclusive Design.

16. Accessibility: Accessible web design is about designing digital products and services so that they are accessible and usable by all users. Regardless of their individual abilities, cultural backgrounds, and technological knowledge.

Use of open source software

17. Reduction in licensing costs: By using open source software, companies can achieve significant savings in licensing costs by not having to purchase expensive proprietary software licenses.

18. Collaboration with other developers: Open source software allows developers to collaborate and share code to work together on projects. This allows you to speed up software development and create better software products and services.

19. Freedom to customize: By using open source software, companies have the freedom to customize and adapt the code to their specific needs. This allows them to develop their software faster and more effectively.

20. Training of software practitioners in sustainable software development

One of the most important best practices. Companies can provide their employees with various training opportunities to ensure they have the knowledge and skills necessary to develop sustainable software. Online courses and workshops can be an effective way to train developers on sustainable software development. These training courses can cover a variety of topics, such as optimizing code, using resources efficiently, using sustainable technologies, and considering ethical issues. They can also help raise developers’ awareness of the impact of their work on the environment and motivate them to develop sustainable solutions.

21. Establishment of a “sustainability network”

By collaborating and sharing knowledge, companies can work together to achieve sustainability goals and join forces to effect positive change. Here’s where you can talk about the benefits of partnerships and collaboration, and how companies can work together to achieve their sustainability goals. One way to encourage collaboration is to participate in sustainability initiatives and programs created by governments or other organizations. These initiatives provide networking opportunities with other companies and experts and can help share best practices and strategies. Collaborations with other companies pursuing similar sustainability goals thus lend themselves well. By working together, companies can share their resources and knowledge to effect positive change together. Establishing working groups or joint research projects can also help create synergies and drive sustainability in software development.


It is important to understand that sustainable software development is not only a responsibility to the environment and society, but also an opportunity to save costs and improve efficiency. By integrating sustainable technologies and best practices into their software development, companies can have a positive impact on the environment and society while increasing their competitiveness and profitability.