Blog>How to Choose a Green Web Host (Five Top Tips)
All websites are hosted on servers. In data-centres all over the world, web servers consume around 10% of global electricity usage and are, unfortunately, usually powered by fossil fuels. Although it’s proven difficult to measure, the upkeep of the internet is responsible for an estimate of 3.7% of total global emissions (exceeding the aviation industry).
In this article, we are going to dive deeper into traditional and green hosting environments, their effects, and what to look out for when deciding on a hosting environment for your website.
Green web hosting companies usually aim to provide website owners with server hosting that runs on clean, sustainable energy, all while upholding general sustainable practises. The renewable energy is gathered from natural sources that replenish faster than they are consumed. Whereas a conventional host emits thousands of tons of CO2, green hosts emit none.
Choosing to opt for a green host rather than a conventional host is a big step towards becoming a sustainable company. Here are some benefits of making the switch:
Your website’s carbon footprint will be much lower
You will be supporting renewable energy
You will be promoting social responsibility
It will be a brand differentiator from your competitors
When in search of a green hosting provider, one of the most important things is finding out what the company defines as ‘green’, and ensuring it aligns with your goals. Although considering opting for a green host is a step in the right direction, it’s important to remember that different hosting providers adopt different strategies. Here is a rundown of a few popular examples:
Sustainable energy: This involves providing the user with server hosting run on sustainable sources of energy, such as wind, hydro, or solar power. This plays one of the most important roles in reducing the effect on the environment, but bear in mind that not all hosting companies calling themselves “green” take part in this practice.
Energy-efficient equipment: As technology evolves, servers will need to be upgraded or replaced. Keeping old servers can mean higher power consumption, and several old servers are needed to do the same work as a fewer number of modern ones.
Certificates: The two most common certificates that green web hosting providers will hold are RECs and VERs. REC (Renewable Energy Certification) is proof that the energy used for the servers are obtained from renewable sources. This means that they use energy off the grid to power their data servers, and then purchase 100% renewable energy to put back onto the grid. Bear in mind that this does not equal them using green energy themselves. VER (Verified Emission Reductions) are carbon offset certificates, meaning rather than utilising renewable energy, eco-friendly initiatives are being undertaken to offset carbon. A company can hold both certificates.
Transparency: With greenwashing being a major problem in modern commerce, companies that are serious about climate change will usually showcase their financial reports or certifications (such as B-Corp or LEED) on their websites. They are also more keen to respond to press enquiries, or to take part in interviews to further the discussion.
Carbon offsetting: A popular practice within companies. Carbon offsetting compromises of purchasing credits to make up for emissions that occur elsewhere. A proof of this is if the provider holds a VER certificate. The money generated from the purchase of these credits usually (but not always) gets invested in environmental projects.
While green hosting might sounds like a more expensive choice for the website owner, there are, in fact, many affordable options available. Additionally, many green web hosting providers offer discounts and promotions if you sign up for a long-term contract. You can make the switch at any point, even if you are using a conventional hosting provider at the current time. Green host companies offer seamless migration to help you transfer your site to their servers.
Do the earth a favour and continue this important conversation to raise awareness. And remember: “The Cloud” is not a translucent abstraction as the name might suggest, it requires tremendous, real-world, physical upkeep.
Interested in what you can do right now? Learn how to implement easy SEO tactics to lower your digital footprint, or how to create an environmentally sustainable digital marketing plan.
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