August 21, 2019
A green website

Green is not only good for your brand, but also more important then ever. ICT is already responsible for more than 4.5% of the energy use worldwide. We have to take action… but how? It seems simple: Make sure that your website uses less energy and make sure that this energy comes from sustainable resources. But how do you realize that?

Let us take a look at the energy usage. What is the energy usage of a website made of? It consists of the energy usage of the server and the energy usage of the devices of the visitors.

Let us start with the server, the computer that is hosting your website. Website owners have the most power over these devices, as they pay for them. Creating/building a server has an environmental impact (especially the mining process of some of the required metarials), but this server is also running day and night to make sure your website is always available, which requires a lot of energy. Fortunately this server is not only hosting your website, but also hosts a dozen or more other websites. The lighter the websites are, the more websites fit on one server, the lower the energy usage per website. Note that ’light’ refers to storage, processor power and bandwidth.

Website owners want their website to load instantly from all around the world. This is partly due to Google, that ranks fast loading websites higher in its search engine. A good thing, as it stimulates lighter (and thus greener) websites, but it also has a negative side effect. A common solution to shorten the loading time of a website is to use a CDN (a Content Delivery Network). A CDN is a network of server, positioned at strategical locations all around the world, containing a copy of your website. This is obviously not very green, but because we are talking about distributed load more servers fit on a single server. This mitigates the negative effect of the (added) extra machines.

To get extremely high speeds you see that website owners reserve capacity. This means that a server will be doing nothing in order for it to be able to react instantly when required. This absolutely NOT green. We see this principle in VPS and dedicated servers. So, when your website is running on a VPS or dedicated server, it may be quick, but it is not green.

Finally the origin of the energy for the servers is important. Are they sustainable? Is it truly green energy? Or is it green energy based on certificates? Because green hosting is not always as green as it seems.

I always build light (and thus green) websites, because I want my website to have a high Google score. A nice side-effect is that a light website uses less battery from the device of the visitor, which makes it also greener on that front.

When you choose for a light website, hosted on shared hosting (so no VPS or dedicated server), without a CDN, in a green datacenter, you have a very green website. When you use a CDN it depends mainly on the environmental impact of the datacenters used by the CDN.

Less relevant, but nice to know: I build my websites on a passively cooled computer with a mobile i5 processor (less energy usage than a desktop i7), which runs on very green energy provided by Qurrent.

Is a green website something for you? I would love to help!

()  Joost van der Schee

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