Skip to main content

A Green Software Maturity Matrix

What does this mean in a green software context for an organization? Let’s be realistic. Almost all enterprises are at level 1 right now. Going green is the most difficult project our industry faces.

Green Software Maturity Matrix!

Level 1 - Aspiring

You have individuals in your organization who care about green targets for technology but no systemic interest, processes or commitments. Some development teams measure their carbon emissions. This is where almost all of us are today.

Level 2 - Aware

You know your organization’s scope 1 and 2 emissions. You have a few projects driving greenness within your organization and beyond it using this data (by putting pressure on suppliers, for example). Your engineers have had some training in green systems, operations and patterns.

Level 3 - Acting

You know your scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis. You have been acting on reducing the scope 1 and 2 emissions for a while and your carbon footprint is going down per some consistent, org-specific unit of output, e.g per order. You have defined processes for every team including regular reporting and reviewing of CO2 equivalent emissions for all IT related operations. Your PM teams have a remit to avoid waste, for example saving no more data than is necessary or implementing any functionality before need, and you can switch off zombie or low use services immediately (“Lightswitch Ops”). You have automatic resilience to weather-related operational risks (e.g. DC outages). You are aware of and discuss the tradeoffs between embodied carbon and carbon generated by energy usage. You have plans in place to minimize your embodied carbon footprint, including significantly extending the life expectancy of both the servers and end user devices you run on.

Level 4 - Awesome

You have a measurement system in place that is producing good real-time scope 1, 2, and 3 data and although it’s not currently driving the business day-to-day, the business is very aware of it. Using the more limited scope 1, 2, and 3 data you have had for a while, you have already achieved net carbon zero using no more than 10% offsets. (Note offsets are highly problematic but they demonstrate you are regularly measuring). You perform demand shaping; pre-calculation and caching; and time and location shifting, for example, to adapt your workloads to current conditions. You automatically delete or archive data that isn’t in regular use. Services no longer in use are automatically turned off and rightsizing happens automatically (i.e. you apply SRE principles). Your applications are Lean and you constantly review and retire functionality that is insufficiently used. Your organizational strategy has been aligned with being green as a business goal - perhaps for reasons of ESG, cost, resilience, or market access to the EU - and delivery on CO2 targets is regularly discussed and reported at senior level. Your total carbon footprint is going down even as you grow. You are also actively driving the carbon footprint of your suppliers to go down. You never cause hardware less than ten years old to become end of life either by lack of security patches or lack of backwards compatibility in your applications. You are actively driving the carbon footprint of your customers to go down (beyond simply their use of your services and devices) for example by providing scope 3 reporting for your goods and services. Examples (for some of it): Google, AWS, MS.

Level 5 - Inspiring

You’ve got there. You have achieved 24/7 CFE and require no more than 1% offsets to handle hard to shift embodied carbon. You have team level measurable goals (OKRs etc) for your CO2 measurements. You are optimizing for minimal CO2 emissions using your dynamic, real-time data. You and the services you rely on use real-time information including dynamic grid energy data to make rapid, quantitative decisions that allow you to be greener. This could (and probably will) be via a service you use rather than something you built yourself. You are already an SRE-aware organization that thinks in terms of error budgets for outages and downtime and you now think about carbon budgets in the same way. Using predictions based on factors such as weather and grid congestion, you change and move almost all of your workloads ahead of time to match your electricity requirements to local green power availability (aka 24/7 CFE) and any time sensitive workloads are highly optimized for minimal electricity use. You never cause hardware to become end of life either by lack of security patches or lack of backwards compatibility. You are ready for the energy transition and won’t be caught by surprise by sudden new rules or constraints.

Axes (Matrix Rows)

  • Whole organization energy commitments
  • Carbon footprint
  • CO2 equivalent metrics
  • Server resource management
  • Energy resource management
  • Minimize end user device embodied carbon waste (assume circular economy)
  • Minimize server hardware embodied carbon waste
  • Product management
  • Education


  • Small business: Maturity matrix per company
  • Small and Midsize Enterprise (SME): Maturity matrix per company
  • Larger organization: Maturity matrix per business unit rather than per company