AWS Well-Architected Framework: Sustainability

Tal Shladovsky
July 11, 2023
min. read
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The Sustainability pillar of the AWS Well-architected framework focuses on integrating sustainability considerations into the design, development, and operation of cloud workloads. This includes reducing the environmental impact of IT operations, promoting sustainable practices, and providing tools and resources to measure and report on sustainability performance.

Design Principles

The Sustainability pillar consists of the following six design principles:

  • Understand your impact: This principle involves understanding the environmental impact of your cloud workloads, including energy usage, carbon emissions, and other sustainability metrics.
  • Establish sustainability goals: Setting sustainability goals can help prioritize efforts to reduce the environmental impact of cloud workloads, such as reducing carbon emissions or increasing energy efficiency.
  • Maximize utilization: By optimizing resource utilization and reducing waste, organizations can minimize the environmental impact of their cloud workloads and reduce costs.
  • Anticipate and adopt new, more efficient hardware and software offerings: Adopting new, more efficient technologies can help reduce the environmental impact of cloud workloads and improve sustainability performance.
  • Use managed services: Managed services can help reduce the environmental impact of cloud workloads by enabling organizations to offload certain tasks and functions to cloud providers, who may have more efficient and sustainable infrastructure.
  • Reduce the downstream impact of your cloud workloads: This principle involves considering the full lifecycle impact of cloud workloads, including end-of-life disposal and recycling of hardware, as well as the impact of data transfer and communication networks.

Best Practices

The Sustainability pillar consists of the following five best practices:

  • Region selection: The location of cloud resources can have a significant impact on their environmental footprint. Organizations can prioritize regions with renewable energy sources or other sustainable infrastructure to reduce their environmental impact.
  • Alignment to demand: Ensuring that cloud resources are aligned with demand can help minimize waste and optimize resource utilization, reducing the environmental impact of cloud workloads.
  • Software and architecture: Adopting sustainable software and architecture practices, such as designing for efficiency and minimizing resource usage, can help reduce the environmental impact of cloud workloads.
  • Data: Data can be a significant contributor to the environmental impact of cloud workloads. Minimizing data transfer and storage requirements can help reduce the environmental impact of cloud workloads.
  • Hardware and services: Selecting sustainable hardware and services, such as energy-efficient servers and renewable energy sources, can help reduce the environmental impact of cloud workloads.
  • Process and culture: Fostering a culture of sustainability and implementing sustainable processes, such as regular monitoring and reporting of environmental impact, can help drive ongoing sustainability improvements in cloud workloads.

AWS Sustainability Scanner

AWS's startup solution architects team recently released an open source tool called Sustainability Scanner. This open source tool evaluates your AWS CloudFormation template against a set of sustainability best practices from the Well Architected framework. It generates a report with a sustainability score and suggested improvements to apply to your template. The Sustainability Scanner is highly adaptable, allowing you to customize and expand its rule set in accordance with your organization's unique sustainability policies. Although it already incorporates a range of rule implementations aligned with the AWS Well-Architected Pillar for Sustainability, it is not limited to this predefined list. As the tool evolves, new rules will be introduced to ensure its relevance and effectiveness.
For more information visit here

Sustainability Scanner demo. Source: AWS Labs on GitHub

How can Stream.Security help achieve the Sustainability pillar?

Stream.Security Architectural Standards can help you reduce your organization carbon footprint, whether by suggesting you alternative regions with smaller carbon footprint than regions your organization is currently running on:

Sustainability focused architectural standards on Stream.Security

And helping you find unused and underutilized resources that "contribute" to less energy efficient server population and high electricity and energy usage:

Underutilized resources by Stream.Security Architectural Standards

Unused resources by Stream.Security Architectural Standards


The Sustainability pillar emphasizes the importance of designing and operating sustainable systems on the AWS platform. By considering sustainability principles and best practices, organizations can minimize their environmental impact, reduce resource consumption, and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Addressing sustainability involves optimizing resource usage and energy efficiency. By leveraging AWS services such as Amazon EC2 Spot Instances, AWS Lambda, and Amazon S3 Intelligent-Tiering, organizations can dynamically allocate resources based on demand, minimize idle capacity, and optimize energy consumption.

Implementing efficient data storage and management strategies is crucial for sustainability. Utilizing data lifecycle management features, organizations can automatically transition data to the most cost-effective storage tiers, reducing storage costs and energy consumption. Adopting cloud-native database services, such as Amazon Aurora Serverless, further optimizes resource utilization by scaling capacity based on workload demand.

Maximizing the use of renewable energy is a key aspect of sustainability. AWS offers regions and data centers powered by renewable energy sources, allowing organizations to host their applications and data in environmentally friendly facilities. Additionally, by leveraging AWS tools like AWS Trusted Advisor and AWS Cost Explorer, organizations can gain insights into their environmental impact and make informed decisions to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Continuous monitoring and improvement are essential for sustainability. By establishing clear sustainability goals, regularly tracking key performance indicators, and implementing automated monitoring and reporting mechanisms, organizations can measure their progress, identify areas for improvement, and drive sustainable practices throughout their AWS environment.

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