Smells like Green Spirit #1 - Web Hosting
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
When looking for our insights articles’ topics, we are wondering what easy solutions are out there for companies. Indeed, there are several actions companies can already put in place to reduce their carbon impact! In our "Smells like Green Spirit" series we will look at all the easy tweaks companies can do to reduce their impact on the environment.
Now, what is the one thing that all modern companies have nowadays? A website! Adopting sustainable practices for your website can have a real positive impact on the environment. We tend to think of the Internet as a virtual concept, although, running the Internet requires data centres to function continuously and use much energy.
On average, a data centre uses 5kWh per GB, if that does not mean anything to you, let’s compare these numbers to other data. To watch a high-quality video for around 2h, the average time of a movie, you will require 1 GB of data. So, streaming the movie titanic would use about as much energy as most other household equipment.
These negative repercussions on the environment are sneaky as they are hard to quantify, and we do not see them in action. Indeed, we do not pay that energy usage in the end, so it is hard to notice. In terms of energy consumption, data centres use around 416.2 terawatt-hours per year, which is more than the whole of the UK. In terms of GHG emissions, the Internet is responsible for 2% of global carbon emissions, roughly equivalent to Germany. The Internet is the fastest-growing carbon polluting industry; it will surpass all other sectors in terms of worldwide pollution.
The Next Generation EU is planning to support both digital and sustainable transition; However, if we do not take care of the emissions generated by digitalisation, we are just assigning the problems to the data centres and the countries hosting these data centres. The EU already applied this strategy with waste, sending its polluting and non-recyclable waste to other countries such as Togo or Indonesia. By not taking the lead on sustainable web designing and hosting, we will digitalise our waste production.
Now, did you know that your company’s website harmed the environment? I was vaguely aware of it but never had the curiosity to look deeper into how harmful it is. There are roughly two main ways one can protect the environment through their website, and today we will look at the easiest: Web Hosting.
To make it short, web hosting is a service allowing companies and individuals to post their website on the Internet. In other words, the host will make your site visible and accessible on the Internet, let people look at it and load the pages. Once the code of a website is completed, it is moved onto hardware that runs continuously to allow the site to be accessible. These servers are getting warm from generating data; in fact, most of the energy produced to cool down these servers come from refrigeration to prevent them from overheating. To run incessantly, these hardware use much power, and that is what we can look into to ease our impact in the environment.
For instance, the Dutch company Green Host offers servers that are running on wind energy. Orange website, an Icelandic company, is using geothermal and hydropower as energy sources for their servers. Having a sustainable source of energy to power the servers is a fantastic improvement as it essentially negates the impact of the internet pages. Although this is not the only way, the web hosting company Green Geeks is undoubtedly the leader in green Webhosting. Their policy goes beyond negating the impact of your webpage; it will produce three times the amount of energy your website uses! So not only can you stop having a negative effect, you can start having a positive impact one! Plans start at $2.95/month, which is pretty good pricing for web hosting. Their load speeds of 445 ms, is reliable and will satisfy most of the current company’s website and online stores.
Now adopting renewable sources of energy and negating the impact is one way of mitigating the effects of a website. But how about reducing energy consumption? Using Virtual Private Server (VPS) or Shared Hosting Account means that multiple websites share one hardware. Less hardware means less electricity consumption and thus less impact on the planet. The advantages for business are pretty self-explanatory; a shared service is less expensive. The resources are limited, but for traditional company websites or online shops, it is more than enough.
To take a concrete example, the European Parliament website does not run on green energy. If the parliament decided to switch to green hosting, the website would emit 9% less CO2. Considering the ambitions of the European Union and the €750Bil package to support the green and digital transition of Europe, switching to a green host for the parliament, commission and council websites would be good first steps. For SME’s this is very often a way to split the costs of their website hosting by opting for a shared hosting account. For more prominent companies, it has the benefit of coming with a badge and being recognised as a sustainable, dedicated company.
If you are looking for an easy way to reduce your emission or your company’s emission, changing your web host could be one of the solutions! We will soon be looking at alternative ways to reduce your emissions by updating your website’s format and adopting a sustainable design.
Until then, stay safe, live well, live green.
Our favourite web hosts here:
https://www.greengeeks.com/ -- Leaders in the field
https://www.orangewebsite.com/ -- Geothermal and hydropower 100% green.
https://greenhost.net/ -- Wind-powered servers.
http://www.aiso.net/ -- Solar Powered servers