The internet is not something we often think about in terms of environmental impact, but the rapid and exponential growth of the internet is consuming enormous amounts of power. Internet providers and experts like Walt Coulston are taking a hard look at their carbon footprint and making changes to benefit the planet.
The content contained on the internet is hosted on servers. Most servers are housed in data centers. Maintaining the facilities at a cool temperature, uses vast amounts of energy and produces voluminous amounts of carbon dioxide (C02).
Most clients never see the server where their website is hosted, so what part do they play in the environmental impact created by these servers? The need for large data centers is consumer-driven. The demand for website hosting drives the building of more and more data centers, all of which create a significant carbon footprint.
Consumers are learning that they can support the environment by changing their spending habits to support green enterprises.
What is green web hosting?
Green web hosting is eco-friendly initiatives to reduce the consumption of energy and C02 emissions. Green web hosting companies focus on carbon offsets, which are reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases in one place to compensate for emissions made somewhere else.
There is no standard definition which certifies a web hosting company as green, but some of the companies that are making well-documented steps toward eco-friendly hosting include:
- GreenGeeks—While other providers have environmentally-friendly practices, Greengeeks web hosting is the only one that has sustainability as their primary focus. Their methods have kept more than nine million metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the environment and have restored over thirteen billion gallons of water to critically dewatered rivers. They are also an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Power partner. As such, it’s difficult not to recommend them if sustainability is your primary goal.
- DreamHost—houses its servers in data centers that use high-efficiency cooling and use cooling plants that use reclaimed water.
- Acorn Host—Offers discounted plans to non-profit organizations, including those focusing on environmental issues. Acorn also works with data centers that are making efforts to be eco-friendly.
- A2 Hosting—They purchase carbon offsets to help offset the impact of emissions. A2 Hosting has offset over two million pounds of carbon emissions. A2 Hosting started its green hosting efforts over a decade ago, and continue to find new ways to reduce the environmental impact of the company.
- HostPapa uses renewable energy and has been buying renewable energy credits (REC) to power servers, data centers, and office space. The company recently decided to support solar and wind energy to help reduce its carbon footprint.
How does green web hosting work?
Green web hosting companies focus on renewable energy such as sun, wind, or water. Using these renewable energy sources doesn’t require using fossil fuels, therefore producing clean energy.
Many green web hosting companies focus on the use of energy-efficient hardware, housed in energy-efficient buildings. Some of the data centers were built using recycled building material, which has become a popular construction trend in the green building era. Green web hosting companies use flexible work arrangements, including telecommuting staff, to do their part in reducing carbon emissions.
Going Green certainly helps businesses be responsible world citizens, but it also gives them an industry edge from environmentally responsible consumers. Consumers realize the power they wield in spending their money with companies that have eco-friendly business practices. Consumers can force every business, in every industry, to adopt environmentally sound practices. The laws of supply and demand will force environmentally irresponsible companies to adopt new eco-friendly policies to stay afloat when consumers use the power of their money to demand economically sound business practices.
Green web hosting is a step in the right direction, but it only works if the green web hosts do not lose sight of their purpose, which is providing fast, reliable, and efficient web hosting. Customers want to buy green, but not at the expense of competency. As a consumer, do your due diligence in researching potential web hosting companies. With so many hosts going green, you do not have to sacrifice quality web hosting to work with a company that takes its environmental responsibility seriously.