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Sustainability assessment framework

Version: PA2

Executive Summary

The Sustainability assessment framework (SAF)  is a set of tools to analyze a situation to be able to balance the different sustainability-concerns with functional requirements of a solution. It aims at supporting design decision making and as such, it helps framing the sustainability-quality concerns (i.e. quality requirements/attributes related to 4D-sustainability) and the mapping on architecture design, KPIs/metrics and measures.  

  • It is typically used for requirements analysis and design, and is designed to represent main aspects of sustainability  by structuring the effects of software systems into four dimensions: economic, environmental, social, and technical.
  • The SAF toolkit includes five different parts: the Decision Map (DM), a Checklist to define the elements in the DM, theThe Sustainability-Quality (SQ) dependency matrix, the Decision Graph, and the Sustainability-Quality Model.
  • An example of the use of the SAF is provided in the context of analyzing sustainability concerns when arranging scientific conferences.
  • A toolkit, templates, and examples for using the SAF approach can be found on GitHub and a video presentation of the framework is available online.

Definition of the approach

One of the core competence areas of professionals involved in the development of ICT is the identification and representation of requirements. For modern ICT-solutions, sustainability can be considered a key non-functional cross-cutting requirement in several regards. Lago and colleagues (Gupta, Lago & Donker,2021)  have developed an approach for representing main aspects of sustainability-requirements  structuring the effects of software systems into four dimensions. Three of them are used in several sustainability models as discussed in Sustainability  – Tankesmien GoForIT: The economic (monetary), the environmental, and the social dimensions. To this they add the technical dimension, similar to what is done in the sustainability analysis diagram , and these four dimensions are often depicted as a diamond as seen below. SAF aims at supporting making design decision and as such, it helps framing the sustainability-quality concerns (i.e. quality requirements/attributes related to 4D-sustainability) and the mapping on architecture design, KPIs/metrics and measures.

Figure 1. Dimensions of sustainability in SAF

The approach also differentiate between the same levels of impacts (immediate, enabling, and systemic as the  sustainability analysis diagram corresponding to the first-, second- and third-order effects outlined in (Hilty et al. 2006)).

Diagrams and models in the SAF – toolkit

As illustrated in Figure 2 the toolkit includes 5  different parts

  • The Decision Map (DM) to help explore the design space and make decisions
  •  A Checklist to help define the elements of a DM
  • The Sustainability-Quality (SQ) dependency matrix to help identify the dependencies among DM elements
  • The Decision Graph to help assign the right impact timescale to DM elements
  • The SQ Model to define concerns and measures. This is a historical database of reusable SQ concerns.

Figure 2 The different components of SAF

Examples of use

Figure 3  from (Funke and Lago, 2022)  provides an  illustration of two  simple decision maps in connection to the analysis of sustainability concerns when arranging scientific conferences, illustrating the differences between virtual and physical conferences. The notation of the language for developing decision maps are shown in Figure 4.

Figure 3. An example of two simple decision maps for various conference organization options

Figure 4. The language for developing decision maps (DM)

Tools:   A toolkit to support using the approach is available at GitHub – S2-group/SAF-Toolkit: Sustainability Assessment Framework (SAF) Toolkit   (Lago and  Condori-Fernandez, 2022)

The Decision Map template in the github SAF-Toolkit/[2022-04] DM Library [features+concerns].xml at main · S2-group/SAF-Toolkit · GitHub iis  for the Diagram Software and Flowchart Maker drawio for development of decisions maps. Use ‘New Library’ from the file-mey in drawio to import the template. 

Video presentation of the framework and other work by Patricia Lago et al. Sustainability and Inclusion in Software Engineering – NTNU

Templates and examples

See the SAF Toolkit under tools  

References and bibliography

Andrikopoulos, V., & Lago, P. (2021). Software Sustainability in the Age of Everything as a Service. In Next-Gen Digital Services. A Retrospective and Roadmap for Service Computing of the Future (pp. 35-47). LNCS, Springer, Vol. 12521

Alcides Fonseca and Rick Kazman and Patricia Lago. (2019). A Manifesto for Energy-Aware Software. IEEE Software, 36(6), 79–82

M. Funke and P. Lago (2022), “Let’s start reducing the Carbon Footprint of Academic Conferences”, ICT4S Conference. IEEE.

Gupta, S., Lago, P., & Donker, R. (2021). A Framework of Software Architecture Principles for Sustainability-driven Design and Measurement. In 18th International Conference on Software Architecture Companion (ICSA-C), pp. 31-37, IEEE

Hilty, L.M., Aebischer, B.: ICT for Sustainability: An Emerging Research Field. In: Hilty, L.M., Aebischer, B. (eds.) ICT Innovations for Sustainability. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing 310, Springer International Publishing (2015)

Patricia Lago and Nelly Condori-Fernandez (2022). The Sustainability Assessment Framework (SAF) Toolkit: Instruments to help Sustainability-driven Software Architecture Design Decision Making, S2 Group, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam https://github.com/S2-group/SAF-Toolkit

Verdecchia, R., Lago, P., Ebert, C., & De Vries, C. (2021). Green IT and Green Software. IEEE Software, 38(6), 7-15

License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Version log

PA114.6.2022John Krogstie
PA112.12.2022John Krogstie – first full version from writing workshop
PA2 9.1.2023Simen Sommerfeldt –  added Executive Summary. JK: Small update of this
PA 229.1.2023JK: Update after review by Patricia Lago. Removing ChatGPT-errors 

Appendix: Version handling

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