top of page

Design for Environmental Sustainability in Computing




December 15, 2022



December 29, 2023





Award Floor:



Match Required?





Entity Types:

Nonprofits (with 501(c)(3) status), Public & State controlled institutions of higher education

*Who May Submit Proposals: Proposals may only be submitted by the following: -Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations located in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activities. -Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members.Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus. *Who May Serve as PI: By the submission deadline, any PI, co-PI, or other senior project personnel must hold either: ;lt;ul;gt; ;lt;li;gt;a tenured or tenure-track position, or;lt;/li;gt; ;lt;/ul;gt; ;lt;ul;gt; ;lt;li;gt;a primary, full-time, paid appointment in a research or teaching position;lt;/li;gt; ;lt;/ul;gt; at a US-based campus of an organization eligible to submit to this solicitation (see above), with exceptions granted for family or medical leave, as determined by the submitting organization. Individuals with primary appointments at for-profit non-academic organizations or at overseas branch campuses of US IHEs are not eligible.




Source Type:


The goal of the Design for Environmental Sustainability in Computing (DESC) program is to address the substantial environmental impacts that computing has through its entire lifecycle from design and manufacturing, through deployment into operation, and finally into reuse, recycling, and disposal. These impacts go well beyond commonly-considered measures of energy consumption at run-time and include greenhouse warming gas emissions (GHGs), depletion of scarce resources like rare earth elements, and the creation of toxic byproducts. For instance, embodied energy, GHGs, and other harmful emissions from manufacturing computing systems can often be higher than the operational energy and resulting GHGs and harmful emissions systems will use and emit during their lifetime. Data centers can directly impact local ecosystems through heat management practices, as well as impacting local power management and capacity. Algorithmic, software, and workflow design choices; design of operating systems and middleware; and choices of programming languages and compilation can drive environmental impacts from provisioning, use, and effective lifetimes of computing. Moreover, decisions about maintenance, repurposing and disposal of computing systems shape those impacts by affecting the need for additional systems manufacturing and disposal, the latter of which impacts contamination and consumption of landfill space. The DESC solicitation seeks to bring together teams to work toward solutions that address sustainability in new and measurably different ways that are inclusive of the breadth of computing and information science and engineering research, with the ultimate goal of holistic order of magnitude improvements in the environmental sustainability of computing. DESC projects should go beyond solely energy efficiency to address a more complete set of environmentally sustainable outcomes in terms of (but not limited to) metrics of GHGs, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), consumption and disposal of rare materials, heat, wastewater, recyclability, and longevity, along with potential interactions between these metrics. DESC seeks novel approaches that address and raise environmental sustainability to a first-order system objective along with performance, energy-efficiency, security, and other common concerns, at all layers of system stacks and all steps in their lifecycles. Novel hardware and network architectures, sustainability-aware algorithms and data management tools, and methods for software and system design that support assessing and encouraging environmental sustainability are all needed. Approaches to sustainably manage increasingly large datasets and workloads are crucial as are techniques to enhance computing capabilities while consuming fewer resources. Improved modeling and methodologies for organizational and end-user decision making around adoption, use, repurposing, and ultimately disposal of computing systems are also needed. Together, DESC proposals should seek to push the boundaries of system design and when possible seek ways to align sustainability with other metrics to increase both environmental sustainability and computing capabilities as well as the net benefit that computing brings to society. DESC seeks to fund research that addresses environmental sustainability beyond energy efficiency alone. Purely performance and/or energy efficiency computing proposals, proposals that seek to use computing to advance sustainability of other sectors are not in scope for DESC. Additionally, given there are traditionally three pillars in sustainability research, DESC is focused on environmental sustainability. Proposals that seek to solely advance the economic and/or social pillars of sustainability are not in scope for this program.

Tired of searching for grants? Consider a Scouting Report.

bottom of page