Green hosting and sustainable web design

Green IT is not just a problem for data center operators. A very simple way to reduce the high energy consumption associated with the Internet is through a sustainably designed website and green hosting. Web designers can take concrete steps to run their internet presence in an environmentally and climate-friendly way.

Climate neutrality, resource conservation and sustainability (“sustainability”) play an increasingly important role in IT. Data centers and servers in particular use large amounts of electricity for operation and cooling and generate high CO2 emissions. According to one of Bitkom ordered the evaluation of several studies the range of global energy requirements for data centers is about 200 to 1,000 terawatt hours – which corresponds to about 100 to 500 million tons of CO2 equivalents (source: Bitkom “Climate protection through digital technologies – opportunities and risks”, 2020).

It is often overlooked that web presences also take up resources. Websites require significant amounts of data – ever more data streams over the network, the higher their power consumption. Already 10 minutes of video streaming via Youtube With high quality, 280 MB of data already causes about 30 grams of CO2 (source: Insight “Data consumption from YouTube, Netflix, Spotify & Co.: How much data volume do you need for what” 2021). A simple website generates around 1.76 grams of CO2 per call. 20,000 views is already 352 kg of CO2 (source: t3n “Climate Effect: This is how much CO2 your website generations”, 2020).

The good news is that every single web designer can make a contribution to climate protection. Sustainability in web design and green web hosts promise an Internet presence that is climate neutral. In addition, every website operator benefits from a sustainable web presence – for example through better performance and customer satisfaction.

Basically, sustainable web design aims to reduce the amount of energy required to access a website. The following applies: The leaner a website is, the fewer resources are required for loading, which greatly reduces power consumption. The principle “less is more” applies.

Sustainable web design

In practice, sustainable web design means replacing resource-intensive elements with light design solutions. Images, thumbnails, videos, advertising banners and animations, for example, draw a lot of data, increase energy consumption and thus emissions. A good practice is to use images sparingly, the necessary ones to compress with suitable tools and only offers high definition video quality as an option. A slim and economical image format is, for example, the one developed by Google WebP. The license-free format can be used by any web designer and reduces images to the smallest possible file size.

Lean and clear code also promotes sustainable website development. This ensures less data consumption and less effort in code maintenance. Efficient programming makes it possible to compress scripts such as CSS and JavaScript, and unnecessarily large data transfers in server communication are avoided.

The more efficient and resource-saving algorithms and codes, the more energy-saving and environmentally friendly the website is. A website with lots of images, for example, loads all these graphic elements – regardless of whether they are in the user’s field of vision. This costs bandwidth and unnecessary load time. Problems of this nature and the overall performance of the site can be remedied Lazy loading optimize. With a script that e.g LazyLoad the browser only loads images and other data when they are displayed in the user’s visible area – for example when scrolling or enlarging the browser window.

Sustainability also means durability. A website that is designed to be timeless, universal and not tied to short-term fashion and design trends will age more slowly and reduce the amount of redesign and rework required. This saves not only personnel costs, but also power costs for time-consuming relaunches. You will find out what other points you should consider when designing a web here.

The design of a sustainable website is not only beneficial for the climate – it also creates business value and scores in terms of performance and customer friendliness. For example, the success of a website also depends on the loading time: if a page takes more than three seconds to load, half of the visitors are already moving on. A sustainable website loads faster and is more pleasant to use. Also, Google’s ranking algorithm favors lean websites in search results so they rank better and attract more traffic.

Green hosting and smart IT

If you want to make your website climate-friendly and sustainable, you should also think about the environment in which the website is operated. The ideal place for this is climate-friendly data centers. The catchphrase”Green hosting” stands for hosting servers and data centers that are powered by electricity from renewable energies such as wind power and are generally aware of climate-friendly operation.

A climate-friendly data center, for example, uses the waste heat from the servers and reduces CO2. The waste heat generated in data centers can be used to heat homes and cities. A lot of energy can also be saved when cooling data centers by using outdoor cooling instead of air conditioning.

Data centers that completely absorb the CO2 they produce are not a dream of the future. The startup WindCloud, for example, has set up a climate-neutral data center on the North Sea. It is powered by 100 percent green electricity from wind turbines. The waste heat generated by the operation is used to grow algae. These in turn have the property that they absorb CO2.

However, green hosting also means that IT consumers share resources. The sharing economy has long sought to shift the focus from owning to using things. This protects the environment and is also one of several good reasons to switch to shared hosting. In the comparison of shared hosting versus dedicated hosting, the resource-saving feature of shared servers is particularly evident.

Many web hosts have recognized the importance of resource conservation and sustainability. “As a provider of cloud services and solutions, it is of particular importance to the planet to reduce the emissions associated with our energy consumption – and to commit to zero CO2 emissions by 2050,” says Randeep Sanghera, Head of Sustainability at Web host and cloud provider IONOS. “This includes supporting a circular economy by maximizing the repair, reuse and recycling of our devices.”

Who offers Green Web Hosting?

Many other aspects play a role in green hosting. Overall, you can recognize providers with strategies for green IT and green hosting on the following points:

  • Use of green power for server operation
  • Proper disposal or recycling of old hardware
  • Use of hardware with eco-certificates/labels
  • Certified energy management
  • Certified reduction of CO2 emissions
  • Promotion of environmental protection projects
  • Intelligent infrastructures – for example through virtualized and centralized services

Environmentally conscious website operators should make sure to stay with a green web host. ONE Comparison of web hosting providers shows that in addition to conventional servers that do not run on ecologically produced electricity, more and more hosting providers offer environmentally friendly alternatives.

On the customer side, green web hosting does not require more effort or cost than conventional hosting. You just have to choose the right provider. IONOS for example, Green offers web hosting as standard. The company’s 10 own data centers in Europe and North America are continuously operated with 100 percent renewable energy. Advanced technologies are used for this. “Using data science and machine learning, we can optimize our cooling and use innovations such as evaporative cooling,” explains IONOS Sustainability Head Randeep Sanghera.

For companies, it is important not only to implement sustainability strategies, but also to present them actively and visibly to customers in the form of green marketing. Because sustainable web development is increasingly used by agency clients as a keyestablished selection criteria. According to the IDC survey “Greening of and by ITIn the case of sustainable transformation, companies benefit from more efficient processes, better meeting stakeholder requirements, ensuring compliance and increasing Competitiveness”.

The need for sustainable solutions is constantly increasing and public tenders even make them mandatory in some cases. Conversely, web professionals should also have an interest in dealing with sustainability themselves and integrating it into their projects. This is supported, for example, by logos for your own website, which are provided directly by the hoster – such as the Green Hosting Badge for IONOS agency partners.

You can find out more about green IT and sustainability here.

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