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Going Green: Why Your Choice of Web Host Matters


According to Greenpeace, if the internet were a country, it would be the sixth biggest energy user in the world . As a result, it accounts for 3.7% of global CO2 emissions, the same amount generated by all aviation industry flights . As a website owner, every interaction on your site uses energy. To minimise its carbon footprint, the most effective and responsible way forward is to choose green web hosting. Here we take a look at the need for sustainable hosting, the benefits of using it and what to look for in a green web host.

The environmental impact of the internet

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on internet-connected digital technologies, the amount of energy required to power it will continue to rise. According to the 8 Billion Trees website, in the next few years, data storage alone will be responsible for 20% of global electrical consumption. Indeed, everything we do online has an impact, from sending a single tweet or email, to visiting a web page or analysing large volumes of data. It is estimated that over 5kWh of energy is needed to transfer just 1 GB of data. When this energy is not generated by renewable sources, the carbon footprint for each gigabyte is 3kg of CO2.

The main source of those emissions comes from the data centres where websites and other online applications are hosted. Energy is needed to power the infrastructure and keep it cool, with the average data centre using the equivalent energy to 50,000 US homes. Without those data centres, of course, the modern world as we know it would grind to a standstill.

As for the impact of websites, the 8 Billion Trees site goes on to inform us that the more complex a website is, and the more data that it transmits, the bigger its carbon footprint. A major news website, for example, can generate over 500 tonnes of CO2 every month, the same as 1,300 cars. Streaming websites can be even more damaging. Even watching a one-hour show can generate 10 kg of CO2. To put this into perspective, Netflix’s Stranger Things series 4 was watched for more than 1.8 billion hours.

With a typical server using 7,446 kWh every year, many businesses see reducing their hosting’s carbon footprint as central to their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies. With regard to their websites and online applications, this means finding a greener hosting solution. In other words, finding a service provider who can host their website in ways that mitigate environmental damage and reduce CO2 emissions.

Find out How the Cloud Makes Your Company More Sustainable

What is green web hosting?

Green web hosting is a sustainable approach that uses a variety of technologies and best practices to reduce the environmental impact of hosting websites and applications. One way service providers can achieve this is by making greater use of renewable energy sources to power their data centres, such as solar or wind power. If this is not feasible for their own data centres, an alternative approach is to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs). These certificates ensure that the energy consumed by their hosting operations is offset by an equivalent generation of renewable energy. Another type of carbon offsetting sees web hosts contribute to environmental initiatives that help reduce CO2 elsewhere, such as the planting of trees, the restoration of peat boglands or supporting renewable energy projects.

Hardware manufacturers have also become aware of their impact, and this has led to more efficient server technology. As part of their sustainability efforts, green web hosts will deploy these energy-efficient servers and cooling systems, a move that can significantly reduce the amount of electricity they use. Additionally, technologies like server virtualisation, which allows multiple virtual servers to run on a single physical server, help hosts reduce the total number of physical servers needed, further decreasing their energy consumption.

Other practices also contribute to greener hosting, such as recycling and using energy-efficient office spaces with excellent public transport links (see eukhost Powers Forward with Move to Leeds Tech Hub).

Benefits of green web hosting for businesses

The obvious and most important benefit of choosing a greener web hosting solution is that it reduces a company’s environmental impact. Given that we are already seeing the effects of climate change, it is vital that every business plays its part. However, there are other key advantages to doing so.

Firstly, your choice of a green hosting solution sends a clear message to the web hosting industry about consumer values. In this sense, your actions promote the wider adoption of green technologies and practices within the industry and encourage service providers to be more environmentally responsible.

Consumer values, this time of your own customers, also have benefits. Recent years have seen a dramatic shift in consumer attitudes to the environment, with more people opting to buy eco-friendly products or use brands perceived as being environmentally responsible. By moving to a green web host as part of your CSR goals, you can improve consumer perception of your business, potentially increasing sales and boosting customer loyalty.

For more information, read: Sustainability and CX – Online Success

How to choose a green web host

There are several things to consider when choosing a green web host. One of the first is whether the host has ISO 14001-certified data centres. This certification proves that the company has an effective environmental management system and complies with environmental performance obligations while using its resources and reducing its waste efficiently. To achieve certification it must, among other things, have efficient power, cooling, lighting and other infrastructure and use cooling systems that meet ASHRAE thermal guidelines. A host with ISO 50001 accreditation, meanwhile, will comply with a standard that commits it to consistent progress in energy management.

The use of renewable energy is another important factor, however, to ensure this genuinely happens, a host should obtain Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates for their green energy. They should also be compliant with Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) regulations and take part in the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS).

Other things to look for are infrastructure and partnerships. The deployment of more efficient infrastructure, such as replacing HDDs with SSDs, helps reduce carbon emissions, while partnerships with companies that have similar sustainability goals, show the host is seeking to make its entire supply chain greener.

Conclusion

Web hosting has a significant impact on the environment. By choosing a green hosting solution, companies not only reduce their own carbon footprint but encourage hosting providers to improve their sustainability – something that can have a considerable impact on reducing global emissions. At the same time, the shift to green hosting helps companies attract the growing number of consumers with eco-friendly values, which can have a positive impact on sales and customer loyalty.

Are you looking for green web hosting? Take your first step today by seeing how eukhost is continually working towards a more sustainable future for our customers and the planet. For more information, visit eukhost.com/sustainability.

  • Seema Shaikh

    I am a Content Writer who plans, researches, creates, allocates and analyses content strategically to attract and engage target audience. My expertise includes creating various content types such as knowledge base articles, blog posts and infographics.

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