Today there is increasing consciousness, across all sectors of business, about the need to minimize environmental pollution. This need has been obvious for some time in sectors like construction and manufacturing, but only recently has it become apparent in areas such as information technology. Green web hosting is the industry's response to the realization that the climate change situation is now becoming urgent.
Web hosting providers operate largely unseen, and this is why the majority of users are completely unaware of the demands these providers make on the environment. However, in return for your hosting fee, you do expect your website to be available whenever you need to use it. This means the server on which it is placed by the hosting company has operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
What's more, the server on which your website is placed will be only one of a hundred or more servers operated by that company -- in fact, some of the larger companies manage several thousand. Not only do the servers require a vast amount of energy to power them, but every single server produces emissions similar to those of a car. Additional energy is required for cooling systems, Internet connections and fire suppression apparatus, not to mention all the resources and equipment required to maintain all the staff working round the clock. In fact, the web hosting industry threatens to rival the aviation industry for environmental pollution.
This is why a number of hosting companies have taken steps to combat this massive level of pollution by introducing green web hosting. These companies are introducing a wide range of initiatives to reduce their consumption and improve their energy efficiency. There are several different methods they are using to provide eco-friendly policies.
One major aim of green web hosting, of course, is to utilize renewable energy sources as far as possible. Some companies, such as AISO, generate most or all of their own power by using on-site solar panels. This company also circulates the air entering and leaving the building, to produce cooling systems without the need for refrigerants, and uses a back-up generator that runs on propane gas. Green WebHost also has a solar-powered datacenter.
However, the majority of companies that have adopted green web hosting don't have the resources to generate their own power. Many of these companies address the issue by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs). These certificates ensure that the energy they consume comes from 100% renewable sources, such as biogas, wind-powered or solar-powered energy. HostPapa
, Fat Cow
are among the companies that use this method. GreenGeeks
actually purchase three times the amount of energy they use, meaning that they actually give back to the environment.
There are also other ways in which green web hosting initiatives can be carried out. For many companies the emphasis is now on moving away from using a separate office facility, with employees working 24 hours a day, using water and power. Companies are now making much more use of telecommuting, so that energy consumption is limited to the structures essential for providing the services. In addition, with most internal and external business conducted online and through e-mails, the use of paper can be almost eliminated. In fact, Green WebHost has eliminated paper completely.
Smaller companies can also make their contribution to green web hosting, simply by cutting out waste. Rackspace, as well as running totally on certified renewable energy, recycles virtually everything it uses, including cartons, glass and plastic, plus food waste from the company restaurant. What cannot be recycled is incinerated, and the electricity generated through this is returned to the electricity providers. Companies also use energy-efficient lighting in the building, and operate a policy of turning off all lights that are not actually being used.
In addition to renewable energy certificates, some companies also purchase carbon offsets, or carbon credits. This enables companies to neutralize their consumption of energy, and the emissions they produce. DreamHost purchase both RECs and carbon credits, in addition to making their servers considerably more energy efficient. Other green ideas adopted by hosting companies include planting a tree for every new customer sign-up. Some also offer discount hosting packages to nonprofit organizations, or to businesses that offer telecommuting to their employees.
It is possible that hosting your site with a company which practices green web hosting will cost you slightly more -- though not always. Some of these initiatives do come at a price. However, if you are a business, you can advertise the fact that you use them, and this is likely to gain you more customers, and so ultimately increase your profits. Remember, too, that if the hosting company cares about the environment, it is likely to care about you, too.