Home Insights & Advice How to create zero-carbon websites

How to create zero-carbon websites

by John Saunders
5th Mar 20 12:22 pm

Did you know that websites produce carbon emissions? Most people consider the internet to be immaterial and therefore clean. Most businesses are encouraged to take their services online to reduce their resource consumption and reduce their impact on the environment. However, evidence is beginning to emerge that shows that the internet has a significant effect on the environment.

This is why it’s time to consider eco-friendly hosting.

The internet is fueled by electricity. Electricity is used to power telecommunications networks, data centers and the instruments we use to access the web. The internet, therefore, consumes a vast amount of energy and the emissions from this are huge. In fact, electricity from the internet accounts for 2% of global carbon emissions. This is commensurate to the amount of carbon from the global aviation industry. Essentially, if the internet were a country, it would be Germany, the sixth-worst polluter in the world.

Furthermore, the average website has been recorded as producing 6.8 grams of carbon dioxide per page view. This probably doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly. For instance, a website with 10,000 page views per month would produce 816kg of carbon dioxide per year.

Eco-friendly hosting refers to web hosts that are actively trying to carry out eco-friendly actions in order to alleviate their impact on the environment. The main way that web hosts can do this is through carbon offsets and renewable energy.

One of the main contributors to energy consumption and emissions is data transfers. Therefore, one of the main things that need to be done is to make your website more data-efficient. There are two primary ways to do this:

1. Reduce the weight (in KB) of your web pages.

There are several ways to reduce page weight. For starters, you can make sure your code is written cleanly and efficiently. Next, you can create a visually engaging web experience with much smaller files by using vector graphics and CSS effects instead of JPEGs and GIFs. Additionally, you can upload images at scale instead of depending on CSS to resize them. You can also send larger media to green-friendly third-party providers. You should also compress files, videos and images to reduce their size without losing visible quality. Furthermore, you should avoid autoplay on videos, minimize custom fonts and reduce tracking and advertising script.

2. Decrease the number of times that pages are loaded.

It may seem counterproductive to reduce your web traffic but there are situations where users visit web pages that aren’t useful to them. This is evident in bounce rate metrics. Bounce rate statistics show the number of visitors that immediately leave a webpage. This usually happens because they’ve realized that they’ve loaded a page they don’t want. Decreasing bounce rates requires improving your SEO and your user experience. This will not only reduce your data transfer but it will make it easier for your target users to find the information they want, leading to happier users.

In addition to making your website data-efficient, you should also switch your website to renewable energy. As a website owner, you only have so much control over the energy your site emits. You cannot, for instance, control the energy used by telecoms networks or end-users. You can, however, exert some control over the energy used by the data center through your choice of hosting provider. The majority of hosting providers use standard grid electricity. However, there are a number of hosting providers that use renewable energy and therefore have lower carbon emissions.

Identifying green hosting providers is difficult. Although many providers may claim to be using renewable energy, the only way to know for sure is to ask for evidence. A good place to start is the Green Web Foundation which offers a database of green hosting providers. Once you’ve found a provider that offers the performance you need, ask them for proof that their data centers use renewable energy. This should not be a problem if the provider really is green.

Reducing your site’s data transfers and using a web host that is powered by renewable energy enables you to create a zero-carbon website. The more site owners who do this, the more emissions will be lowered and the better our environment will be. Additionally, these steps will give your users a better experience and give you a better return on your investment. So all-in-all, zero-carbon websites are good for the environment and good for business. It’s a win-win!

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