This blog will explore the recent move towards green website hosting many businesses are making. Read on if you are interested in website sustainability.
Website hosting is often the largest part of a company’s carbon footprint online. In a mission to cut down on this, many businesses are turning towards green website hosting. Some are even attempting to create completely carbon neutral websites. In an increasingly technologically advanced world, something as basic as simplifying our web pages can have a really positive impact on the environment.
Planet Killing Websites
It may come as a surprise to many internet users, that the websites you browse through are contributors to the climate crisis. Unlike driving a car, or flying in a plane, we can’t physically see the negative effects of a website when we load it. However, there is a lot going on behind the scenes.
Each website’s data has to be stored in physical locations where servers are using energy 24/7. Not only is this incredibly energy intensive, but the hardware gets hot when it is being used a lot. As a result, a large amount of energy has to subsequently be used to cool these places down via air conditioning units.
With technology becoming more accessible and advanced, lots of websites now come with auto-play videos, animations, and elaborate splash screens. All of these may make a website aesthetically pleasing and ‘revolutionary’, but use a lot more energy to store, load and browse.
The most forward thinking design that a website can adopt in 2021 is to be minimal. This will result in it being more energy efficient. We each have our part to play in reducing carbon footprints, and businesses and their web designers are no exception.
According to Website Carbon (a tool that can estimate how much carbon your website is producing) in November 2021, the average web page produces 1.76g of CO2 per page view. Website Carbon also features some great examples of sustainable websites, with the lowest emitter being Rights4Children, at 0.14g CO2 per view. In 2021, Nivo Digital launched a sustainable, green website for IFA’s magazine in association with Prudential and PruFund Planet that, according to the carbon calculator, is cleaner than 55% of web pages tested.
According to Greenpeace, the IT sector already consumes more than 7% of global electricity. This is only anticipated to increase, with data centres, where all our websites are hosted, being one of the most electricity-hungry parts of it all. They themselves have consumed 1% of global electricity in 2019. This is shockingly far more electricity, and far more carbon emissions, than the whole of the UK itself.
Green Web Hosts
The most effective way of ensuring your website is sustainable and running on clean energy is by switching your web host. Green web hosts have operations that are powered by renewables. However, not all data centres, and thus not all web hosts, are equal. Some are far more polluting than others, depending on how they source their electricity and how efficiently they use it. Some are just simply more suitable and also a greener choice for you, depending on where they are located and how they are set up.
Using The Green Web Foundation directory, you can easily find a reliable host suitable for your website. When selecting a green host, it is important to refer to the host’s renewable energy claims and PUE (power usage effectiveness) rating.
Making sure you choose a local server for the majority of website users is also vital. This massively reduces the energy that needs to be used when loading a page. Simply put, the further away your data centre is, the further the information will have to travel.
It is also important to consider if the host company provides caching. If you have more than 5000 visitors per day to your website, it is recommended to use a CDN. A CDN, or content delivery network, caches content in proxy servers that are located closer to end-users than origin servers. This means that content can be delivered more quickly and efficiently!
Climate-Friendly Web Design
Green website hosting is most successful in reducing your website’s emissions when combined with other strategies. One of these strategies is re-considering the design of your website. Start with limiting the amount of images and videos you use on the site. This means that less time and energy is required to load the site.
Reducing the size of the images you do decide to include is also important. This can be done by using compression tools, such as Tiny PNG or Jpeg.io. Also, ensure you are using the correct file format – web designers can do this by converting images to WebP format or similar. As well as being more climate-friendly, cutting down on unnecessary content means that users get a faster-loading, less complicated website.
The Future of Green Websites
Although green website hosting seems like an easy switch for many businesses, climate-conscious websites are still in the minority. Greening a website is a great way to join this low carbon movement, especially if your business is already conscious about sustainability.
It is important to remain positive in the face of the climate crisis as it is understandable that not all of us can take immediate action. It is reported that the UK has already made progress in cutting emissions. In 2019, the country released 40% less than in 1990.
On a smaller scale, there are plenty of initiatives that we can all get behind. Local group Green Tech South West is an example of a community we can support. They provide expert insight and discussion on how technology can equally battle the issue of climate change.
If you are interested in making your website green, talk to us.