Sustainability Debt: A Metaphor to Support Sustainability Design Decisions

Stefanie Betz, Christoph Becker, Ruzanna Chitchyan, Leticia Duboc, Steve M. Easterbrook, Birgit Penzenstadler, Norbert Seyff, Colin C. Venters

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Sustainability, the capacity to endure, is fundamental for the societies on our planet. Despite its increasing recognition in software engineering, it remains difficult to assess the delayed systemic effects of decisions taken in requirements engineering and systems design. To support this difficult task, this paper introduces the concept of sustainability debt. The metaphor helps in the discovery, documentation, and communication of sustainability issues in requirements engineering. We build on the existing metaphor of technical debt and extend it to four other dimensions of sustainability to help think about sustainabilityaware software systems engineering. We highlight the meaning of debt in each dimension and the relationships between those dimensions. Finally, we discuss the use of the metaphor and explore how it can help us to design sustainability-aware software

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalCEUR Workshop Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2015
Event4th International Workshop on Requirements Engineering for Sustainable Systems co-located with the 23rd IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference - Ottawa, Canada
Duration: 24 Aug 201524 Aug 2015
Conference number: 4 / 23


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