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Salesforce Launches Green Code Initiative to Reduce Software Carbon Footprint

By Lucy Mazalon

Salesforce is launching Green Code, a new initiative to help reduce carbon emissions associated with the software development lifecycle. Newly-released sustainability best practices that help UX designers, software developers, system architects, and IT operations managers to accelerate their organization’s journey to net zero. 

As a society, we’re becoming increasingly climate conscious, making positive changes to reduce our carbon footprint in both our personal and professional lives. Salesforce feels passionately about net zero, having added sustainability as its fifth core value. Looking back at Dreamforce ‘22, a significant portion of the main keynote was dedicated to the environment, carbon sequestering, and managing sustainability data. Most of the company’s carbon footprint comes from data center infrastructure, and reducing these emissions is a key pillar of its Climate Action Plan.

However, when technology is cloud-based, it’s somewhat abstract (we can’t physically see it day to day). While cloud technology has meant most organizations don’t need to run their servers individually, on-premise, this doesn’t mean that the impact goes away entirely. Instead, the impact is centralized into huge data centers that are processing an incredible amount of data every single minute. 

The information and communication technology sector is responsible for up to 3.9% of global emissions – that’s almost as much as the airline and shipping industries! These emissions are expected to rise as organizations increasingly rely on software to drive their operations.

It’s Our Responsibility Too

Aside from all that Salesforce is doing to contribute to net zero, there is a sticking point. A large contributor to the processing power the Salesforce infrastructure uses is how individual organizations configure their environments. 

Think back to the classic multi-tenant architecture analogy of an apartment block. Salesforce built the block, however, their customers own the individual apartments. While Salesforce can improve the general service delivery to the apartment owners, how they design, maintain, and use their ‘environment’ is (pretty much) outside Salesforce’s control.  

This is why the “Green Code” initiative is important and timely, as it brings awareness to our responsibilities as Salesforce professionals.  

Sustainable engineering is good engineering and technologists can play a critical role in the reduction of global carbon emission. With Green Code, we’re hoping to inspire software teams and the entire IT sector to prioritize sustainability, just as they do performance, security, and accessibility. Srinivas Tallapragada, President and Chief Engineering Officer at Salesforce

Sustainable design is in the hands of anyone responsible for designing and building Salesforce. This reminded us of an eye-opening conversation SFBen had with Gemma Blezard, who is known for founding The Architech Club and Ladies Be Architects.

“You may find that you’re struggling with performance issues. For example, you have a private sharing model, with an excess of 20 million transaction records coming in and out of Salesforce and on-premise systems – it’s huge. Given the volume of transactions, that’s processing power between Salesforce and also your own servers. So, your carbon footprint is affected and Salesforce’s footprint is affected too.

As solutions, could we maybe archive 10 million of those records, put them in a data warehouse so that we can reduce the volume of transactions, increase the performance, and reduce the burden on the data centers? Or you could look at another way of doing this; is it the fact that we just need to be able to see these transactions on demand, and we don’t need to house it in Salesforce? You’re only exposing the data – you’re not lifting and shifting and posting it.”

READ MORE: How Sustainable is Your Salesforce Org Design?

This gives you a flavor of how design considerations, and exploring alternative solutions, can make an impact.

MuleSoft Cut Infrastructure Spending By 14%, Thanks to System Optimization

Another example that Salesforce is showcasing is MuleSoft. Their main takeaway here is that small changes can translate into big impacts for a company’s carbon footprint (and its bottom line).

MuleSoft was able to reduce its yearly public cloud infrastructure spending by 14% by optimizing strategies such as identifying and decommissioning underutilized systems and migrating storage to more energy-efficient alternatives.

L’Oréal’s Sustainability Success

At L’Oréal, we’ve embedded sustainability throughout our business and products, and technology has always played a key role to help us achieve those goals. I’m thrilled that Salesforce is launching best practices for technologists to help reduce their environmental footprint associated with software development. Every company can benefit by implementing these changes and accelerate their sustainable achievements.  Ariane Thomas, Global Tech Director of Sustainability at L’Oréal Group

Salesforce Sustainable Design: Getting Started 

According to new Salesforce research, 75% of technologists want to develop software applications that do less harm to the environment, but nearly half don’t know how.

The Sustainability Guide for Salesforce Technology offers practical recommendations for designing apps and writing code that has less of an impact on the environment. The guide focuses on four key areas.

  1. Design & UX: Designers can reduce energy use while providing a better user experience by making sustainability a design requirement, and building a faster experience with fewer steps in data flow.
  2. Architecture: Choosing the appropriate architectural pattern and deployment model for software development can ensure that workloads are cost-effective and have minimal environmental impact. Software architects have a significant role to play in achieving this by integrating reusable APIs, enabled by MuleSoft, and preventing runaway code through governor limits built into the Lightning Platform.
  3. Development: Sustainable code is key. Developing software code that uses less energy can lead to significant emissions reductions, particularly when deployed at scale. Salesforce Lightning apps are coded to run natively in browsers, resulting in up to 60% improvement in performance and a reduction in energy use.
  4. Operations: By locating capacity in the right regions and scheduling workloads during high renewable energy periods, companies can reduce their carbon emissions. Salesforce is focusing on decarbonization efforts through innovations like Hyperforce, its public cloud infrastructure architecture built on 100% renewable energy, which will offer sustainability and functionality benefits to its customers.


To track progress, Salesforce created a metric called Carbon to Serve, which measures the emissions of its data centers relative to work performed by its applications. Since establishing the metric in 2020, Salesforce has achieved a 26% reduction and aims to continue reducing emissions in the future. Now, they want Salesforce professionals to provide support in moving the needle in the right direction. 

Sustainability efforts to date have been largely focused on hardware efficiency and electric grid decarbonization. Optimizing the code that comprises these applications is a powerful leverage point that remains largely untapped.

That’s where the Sustainability Guide for Salesforce Technology comes into action, offering practical recommendations for designing apps and writing code that have less of an impact on the environment. The four areas to explore are design & UX (reducing steps in user processes), architecture (choosing the appropriate architectural pattern and leveraging reusable APIs), development, and operations (scheduling workloads during high renewable energy periods). 

We’re in a climate emergency, and we need everyone to get to net zero as fast as possible. By leveraging these ‘green code’ best practices, technologists and organizations can approach the challenge of sustainability in IT to drive meaningful efficiencies and cost savings across their IT enterprises while accelerating their sustainability journeys. Suzanne DiBianca, EVP and Chief Impact Officer at Salesforce

Further reading:

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

Lucy is the Operations Director at Salesforce Ben. She is a 10x certified Marketing Champion and founder of The DRIP.

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