The Linux Foundation Projects
Skip to main content
By | August 8, 2023August 9th, 2023

LF Energy Research Finds Open Source Software is Driving Sustainability Innovation, Including Climate Technologies, Environmental Science, and Energy Efficiency

Analysis finds open source is strongly impacting fields including biosphere, energy system modeling, and mobility, while lacking in areas such as emission observation and modeling

SAN FRANCISCO – August 8, 2023LF Energy, the open source foundation focused on harnessing the power of collaborative software and hardware technologies to decarbonize our global economies, and Protontypes, an open community accelerating free and sustainable technology, today released “The Open Source Sustainability Ecosystem”. The report provides qualitative and quantitative insights into the landscape of open source sustainability projects, identifies those having the biggest impact, as well as gaps that stakeholders across the energy industry should look to fill.

A total of 1,339 active projects were analyzed and grouped into fields by their primary areas of focus. Projects were then analyzed based on their popularity, longevity, programming languages, licenses, number of contributors, organizational diversity, and other factors. 

45% of all identified projects were found within biosphere, hydrosphere, water supply and quality, energy system modeling, mobility and transportation, and buildings and heating. Other areas see a much more limited number of open source projects, such as sustainable investment, representing only 1.15%, and emission observation and modeling, representing only 2.1%. These represent areas where developers and organizations can focus efforts to make a significant impact on sustainability.

Analysis of the types of organizations creating open source sustainability projects found that 25.8% are community-driven (i.e. do not have an institutional affiliation), 23.4% come from academia, 15.9% from governments, 14.3% from for-profit enterprises, 10.8% from non-profit organizations, and 9.7% from collaborative consortia. 

Following the analysis of the open source sustainability ecosystem, the report goes on to make more than 20 recommendations for effectively supporting and building capacity for open source in sustainability. Some of these include:

  • Enhancing collaboration between state and non-state actors
  • Closing the knowledge gap on the environmental impact of industry
  • Adapting and extending existing open source solutions to the global south
  • Establishing an open earth intelligence incubator
  • Applying “open first” criteria when funding sustainability technologies
  • Developing open data commons in conjunction with open source code
  • Providing maintainers with training and support to preserve projects

“Open source is essential to preserving natural resources through traceable and collective knowledge creation on the state of our environment,” said Tobias Augspurger, founder of Protontypes. “In the long term, open source ensures that key indicators for quantifying sustainability are created with as much confidence and transparency as possible.”

“Open source software is a powerful tool in our fight against climate change,” said Eirini Malliaraki, head of Programme at Deep Science Ventures. “It’s not only about preserving natural resources, it can drive compound, systemic solutions by pooling knowledge and OSS projects across various domains. Importantly, open source is the only way we can understand the environmental impact of any organization in a solid, reliable and science-based way.”

“We see open source as a key, but largely neglected, driver for accelerating the transition to a sustainable economy,” said Josh Hopkins, founding director of Open Corridor. “This is a challenge that both state and non-state actors alike can take steps to address. A key goal of this report is to help them understand what steps can be taken to further speed this transition through the use of open source.”

“LF Energy gladly jumped into action when the group at Protontypes approached us about working collaboratively to better utilize and share the findings of their research into open source sustainability,” said Linux Foundation General Manager, Arpit Joshipura. “This research demonstrates the massive impact that open source is having on all types of sustainability goals, but also how much remains to be done. We hope that by making the findings more accessible and digestible, we will encourage more individuals and organizations to contribute to and adopt open source technologies to accelerate sustainability efforts across industries.”

The complete findings are available for free download

This report was compiled utilizing a mixed methods study designed to understand all aspects of this socio technological system. The researchers collected quantitative and qualitative data concurrently and used one source’s findings as cross-validation for the other. Thousands of projects were analyzed across dimensions including a general overview, technology, community, ecosystem collaborations, and financial sustainability. The original dataset used for the creation of the report can be found on

LF Energy Resources

About LF Energy

A first-of-its-kind initiative, LF Energy provides a 21st century plan of action to solve climate change through open frameworks, reference architectures and a support ecosystem of complementary projects. Strategic Members include Alliander, Google, Microsoft, RTE and Shell, in addition to over 50 General and Associate Members from across the energy industry, technology, academia, and government. Find further information here: