Designing for Sustainability: Lessons Learned from Four Industrial Projects

Patricia Lago, Roberto Verdecchia, Nelly Condori Fernandez, Eko Rahmadian, Janina Sturm, Thijmen van Nijnanten, Rex Bosma, Christophe Debuysscher, Paulo Ricardo

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Scientific research addressing the relation between software and sustainability is slowly maturing in two focus areas, related to `sustainable software' and `software for sustainability'. The first is better understood and may include research foci like energy-efficient software and software maintainability. It most-frequently covers `technical' concerns. The second, `software for sustainability', is much broader in both scope and potential impact, as it entails how software can contribute to sustainability goals in any sector or application domain. Next to the technical concerns, it may also cover economic, social, and environmental sustainability.
Differently from researchers, practitioners are often not aware or well-trained in all four types of software sustainability concerns. To address this need, in previous work we have defined the Sustainability-Quality Assessment Framework (SAF) and assessed its viability via the analysis of a series of software projects. Nevertheless, it was never used by practitioners themselves, hence triggering the question: What can we learn from the use of SAF in practice? To answer this question, we report the results of practitioners applying the SAF to four industrial cases. The results show that the SAF helps practitioners in (1) creating a sustainability mindset in their practices, (2) uncovering the relevant sustainability-quality concerns for the software project at hand, and (3) reasoning about the inter-dependencies and trade-os of such concerns as well as the related short- and long-term implications. Next to improvements for the SAF, the main lesson for us as researchers is the missing explicit link between the SAF and the (technical) architecture design.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
Event International Conference on Informatics for Environmental Protection - Nicosia, Cyprus
Duration: 23 Sept 202025 Sept 2020
Conference number: 34


Conference International Conference on Informatics for Environmental Protection
Abbreviated titleEnviroInfo
Internet address


  • Decision Maps
  • Sustainability-Quality Model
  • Design Concerns
  • Software Architecture

VU Research Profile

  • Connected World
  • Science for Sustainability


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