The ‘Planet as a Stakeholder’ Retrospective
What would we do differently if we treated Planet Earth as our stakeholder?
My scrum teams and I are looking for ways to become more sustainable and reduce our IT carbon footprint. In this planet retrospective we asked ourselves the above question and dived into the topic of green software engineering to find answers and practical ideas on how to reduce our carbon footprint as a scrum team.
We started with a Planet Check In and then proceeded to the principles of green software engineering.
First I took the team along in the theory of Green Software Engineering, basically a new discipline based on climate science, software practices and architecture, electricity markets, hardware and data center design.
The Principles of Green Software Engineering are a core set of competencies that are needed to define, build and run green sustainable software applications.
- Carbon: Build applications that are carbon efficient.
- Electricity: Build applications that are energy efficient.
- Carbon Intensity: Consume electricity with the lowest carbon intensity.
- Embodied Carbon: Build applications that are hardware efficient.
- Energy Proportionality: Maximize the energy efficiency of hardware.
- Networking: Reduce the amount of data and distance it must travel across the network.
- Demand Shaping: Build carbon-aware applications.
- Measurement & Optimization: Focus on step-by-step optimizations that increase the overall carbon efficiency.
How to make our software greener?
After that I asked the team to fill in a survey based on these principles. I asked them: What can we, as a scrum team, do to make our software more sustainable? Where are the biggest gains?
We discussed the results and found much room for improving our software. Taking the sustainability perspective was an entirely new way of thinking for the team, but everyone agreed on the necessity to reduce our carbon footprint.
But… where to start?
Scrum Team Sustainability: First Steps
The team decided that their first step is to generate insights into our carbon footprint. But as our applications are not in the public cloud yet, there are no emissions dashboards available for us (like the AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool or the Emissions Impact Dashboard for Azure).
So they decided to start by assigning arbitrary values to items such as virtual servers, network connections, and redundant components to get a value for how carbon intensive they are (relative to each other). These are the first steps in developing a baseline measurement. There will be a lot of unknowns, estimations and assumptions but step by step we’ll improve and finetune our carbon emission insights on our way to reduce our footprint.
I hope this inspired you to get the conversation on sustainability started in your team. You don’t need to be a sustainability expert to raise awareness, just get the conversation going! And I hope these tools will help you do that.
Because together, if we unite as a scrum community and start valuing the planet as a stakeholder, we can make a positive impact on the livability of our planet.