The majority of individuals are aware that the common things they consume have an environmental component. Although we may not be fully aware of the extent, we generally recognize that everything from clothes to gadgets is the end product of energy-intensive operations like manufacturing and transportation. We are aware that these procedures have an impact on the environment.
We may be less conscious of the effects of the digital items we use on a regular basis. Each of our digital actions, including online browsing, streaming films, and exchanging GIFs, comes with a hidden environmental cost. According to estimates, sending an email alone can emit up to 4 grams of CO2!
Statistics like these are what motivated Tom Greenwood, a sustainable web designer who has produced a book on the topic and whose work includes the Carbon Calculator, an online tool that evaluates a website’s environmental friendliness. It may surprise you that our digital products have such a large environmental effect given that the typical web page evaluated produces 1.76 grams of CO2.
Everything from the devices they are utilized on to the data centers used for hosting websites are energy-intensive activities.
Thankfully, there are several opportunities to enhance sustainability at various stages, such as Green Hosting and Website Optimisation.
Let’s learn more about hosting in general before we look into green hosting. Most websites that we visit are housed on servers, commonly referred to as the cloud, which are computers. The functioning of these servers requires highly high energy-consuming procedures that result from continually being on, as well as the air conditioning necessary for cooling the hardware (important for maintaining optimal performance). These servers are kept in places known as data centers.
One of the simplest and most efficient methods to increase a website’s sustainability is to move to hosting where the data center is powered by renewable energy. Green hosting is defined as hosting that uses renewable energy sources.
How does Green Hosting operate, though? Based on the word, it is simple to infer that the data center is directly fueled by local or easily integrated renewable energy sources (wind, tidal, solar). It’s important to emphasize that this is not the norm for large technological corporations (like Amazon and Google).
Instead, using PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) to buy energy is a common option for green hosting companies like GCP (Google Cloud Platform). PPAs are agreements formed with businesses to buy significant quantities of renewable energy that is utilized on the same grid as the data centers. Although it may sound a little indirect, it is a good way to find renewable energy for hosting purposes and is far more environmentally friendly than using fossil fuels. As a PPA pioneer, Google has committed to running all of its services continuously on CFE (Carbon-Free Energy) by the year 2030.
Does the use of the website be 100% ecologically friendly once it is operating on CFE? Sadly, this is untrue. The energy consumption of devices is a crucial component in addition to green hosting, which is only one aspect of the whole picture.
The processing power required to generate web pages for today’s websites vary greatly depending on the device and the developer methods that were employed. Modern websites are made available on a vast variety of devices.
The adoption of optimizing technologies like Google Lighthouse has increased over the past several years. These tools evaluate a website’s functionality based on factors including page speed, search friendliness, and accessibility.
We’re typically finding that websites constructed four or five years ago perform worse in these performance areas (and are consequently less sustainable) since the standards were much looser. Recently, the criteria by which a site is scored have gotten more severe. This is mostly due to the quick advancement of new development methodologies, the rise in standards, and the volume of material gathered over time. This is one of the reasons it’s crucial to think about the ongoing maintenance of your website, the deletion of pointless information, and the updating of software.
Sustainability shouldn’t be viewed as a novelty or a specialty. We must work to make sustainability the norm rather than the exception in our world.