AWS Architecture Blog

Improve workload sustainability with services and features from re:Invent 2021

At our recent annual AWS re:Invent 2021 conference, we had important announcements regarding sustainability, including the new Sustainability Pillar for AWS Well-Architected Framework and the AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool.

In this blog post, I highlight services and features from these announcements to help you design and optimize your AWS workloads from a sustainability perspective.

Architecting for sustainability basics

Environmental sustainability is a shared responsibility between customers and AWS. We maintain sustainability of the cloud by delivering efficient, shared infrastructure. As a customer, you maintain sustainability in the cloud. This means you optimize your workload to efficiently use resources.

Shared responsibility model for sustainability

Figure 1. Shared responsibility model for sustainability

The Sustainability Pillar of the Well-Architected Framework provides the following design principles that you can use to optimize your workload for sustainability in the cloud:

  • Understand your impact.
  • Establish sustainability goals.
  • Maximize utilization.
  • Anticipate and adopt new, more efficient hardware and software offerings.
  • Use managed services.
  • Reduce the downstream impact of your cloud workloads.

In the next sections, I share new services and service features that were announced at re:Invent 2021 that are related to these design principles and provide recommendations on how they can help you design and operate your workloads more sustainably.

Understand your impact

Measure the environmental impact of your workloads and propose optimizations to meet your sustainability goals:

Maximize utilization

Reduce the total energy required to power your workloads by right-sizing your workloads to ensure high utilization and eliminating or minimizing idle resources.

Optimize your storage

Optimize data movement

Moving data across networks can contribute to energy consumption and your overall costs. Optimizing networks and data movement can save energy and costs. Optimize the way you access and move data across networks by:

  • Use AWS Direct Connect SiteLink to connect an on-premises network directly through the AWS global network. This helps your data travel more efficiently (across the shortest path) rather than using public network.
  • Migrate tape backups to the cloud with AWS Snow Family offline tape data migration. This helps you eliminate physical tapes and store your virtual tapes in the cloud with cold storage.
  • Automakers that build connected cars generate loads of data. Use AWS IoT FleetWise to reduce the amount of unnecessary data transferred to the cloud.

Optimize your processing

Minimize the resources you use and increase the utilization of resources you use to run your workloads:

Anticipate and adopt new, more efficient hardware and software offerings

Rapid adoption of new, more efficient technologies helps you reduce the impact of your workloads.

Adopt more efficient instances

Use more efficient software offerings

Use managed services

We launched several managed services that shift the responsibility of sustainability optimization to AWS:

 Reduce the downstream impact of your cloud workloads

  • Use the AWS Rust SDK for the native energy efficiency gains of the Rust programming language.
  • Use Amazon CloudWatch RUM to understand the performance of your application and use that information to make it more efficient.
  • Review your carbon emissions with the new AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool. This helps you define your sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs), optimize your workloads for sustainability, and improve your KPIs.


Having a well-architected, sustainable workload is a continuous process. This blog post brings you AWS announcements from the sustainability perspective. I encourage you to review your workload and find out which of these announcements can be adopted in your workload.

Ready to get started? I encourage you to check out on our What’s New blog for announcements and check them under a sustainability point of view, to identify if they help you improve and meet your sustainability goals.

Looking for more architecture content? AWS Architecture Center provides reference architecture diagrams, vetted architecture solutions, Well-Architected best practices, patterns, icons, and more!

Related information

Ernesto Bethencourt Plaz

Ernesto Bethencourt Plaz

Ernesto is a Solutions Architect in Iberia, working with Public Sector customers, helping them take advantage of the cloud to deliver modern services to citizens and internal users. Previous to joining AWS, he worked as a Product Owner for a security solution in the Banking Sector and before that, a diverse IT roles experience in finance and consulting firms.