Friday, February 23, 2024

Microsoft launches digital sustainability guidelines to advance Singapore’s position as a leading innovation hub in Southeast Asia

Today, and Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced digital sustainability guidelines to accelerate education and awareness among businesses and developers, as they build sustainable applications by design. Created with support from the Green Software Foundation (GSF), the guidelines are part of a global private-public partnership between IMDA and Microsoft that will drive the development of green software solutions by design for a sustainable digital future from Singapore to the world.

According to GitHub, developer communities have grown massively, with over 85 million software development projects kickstarted globally in 2022. Meanwhile, findings from the United Nations indicate that the software industry is responsible for nearly three percent of global carbon emissions – almost similar to the aviation industry. As the carbon footprint of the software industry continues to grow alongside the demand for technology in today's digital age, carbon-efficient software that minimizes emissions by design is becoming more crucial than ever.

“Nurturing the foundations of a resilient, digitally inclusive future is a shared responsibility. These guidelines represent a collective drive to create a positive impact on the environment, by equipping developers with principles and tools to build applications that are inherently more sustainable. Providing developers with practical means of tracking and reporting emissions ensures that we are not simply embracing as an aspiration but actively working towards our net-zero targets,” said Jeth Lee, Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft Singapore.

The digital sustainability guidelines provide educational information and actionable insights for businesses and developers committed to reducing carbon emissions through their work and creating long-term sustainable impact at scale.

The guidelines clarify the relationships between hardware and software sustainability principles and measurements. It provides straightforward guidance on integrating energy efficiency, carbon awareness and hardware efficiency into software engineering and development processes. Applying these principles ensures that applications and solutions are energy-efficient and carbon-aware by design. For example, this may include running software testing and updates for an application at a time of day that may draw less power from the grid and consume less embodied carbon.

Beyond the applicability of principles, the guidelines also provide tools and solutions to help businesses and developers track, report and reduce carbon emissions or greenhouse gases (GHG) created during the creation, running and maintenance of any application or solution, reducing the embodied carbon, GHG and carbon emissions in their lifespan. Some of these measurement tools and solutions include the GSF's Carbon Aware software development kit (SDK) and the Microsoft Sustainability Manager.

“The launch of these guidelines will help advance Singapore's efforts in becoming a leading digital sustainability hub in this region. Greening the ICT sector is important to IMDA and we will continue to work closely with partners such as Microsoft, Green Software Foundation to enable developers and businesses the ability to understand energy efficiency, carbon awareness and green software development. We will continue to drive a positive change to our environment, in Singapore and beyond our shores”, said Chee Wei Nga, Director, Emerging Technology Office, BizTech Group, IMDA.

“We're focused on impact-first solutions that give makers of software a clear path forward toward decarbonization and energy efficiency. With the Digital Sustainability Guidelines, practitioners have one more informative resource to produce sustainable outcomes,” said Asim Hussain, Executive Director and Chairperson of the GSF.

The paper will be available from Microsoft here and on the IMDA website and Green Software Foundation.

These jointly developed guidelines were applied through the Singapore GreenTech Challenge where developers co-innovated to develop carbon-efficient solutions. EvercommWeavAir and ReClimate emerged as winners of the challenge. In collaboration with IMDA, Microsoft diagnosed problems that industries face and crowd-sourced solutions through IMDA's extensive network of start-ups, technology providers, and research institutes. Trialed by winners and participants, the Challenge unveiled an array of new principles and tools enabling organizations to better address today's pressing sustainability issues.

Recognizing the urgent need to drive positive climate change for the world's carbon problem, Microsoft is committed to becoming carbon-negative by 2030, and removing all the carbon that the company has emitted directly or through electricity use since its inception in 1975, from the environment. For more information on Microsoft's progress and learnings as it accelerates efforts towards its global net zero goals, view the Microsoft 2022 Environmental Sustainability Report.

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Nurin Sofia
Nurin Sofia
Nurin Sofia is a news editor at Tech Edition. Her interest is in technology and startups, occasionally crunching news for gaming. Sofia enjoys playing video games, going on bike rides, and gardening when she isn't behind a keyboard.

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