Digital products and services tend to be thought of as intrinsically green – we talk about “the cloud” as if data is hosted somewhere in the sky, when it is really 7.2 million data centres across the world, powered by huge amounts of electricity and cooled by millions of gallons of water, 24/7.
Every time a webpage is accessed, every time an email is sent, every time a file is downloaded, carbon is emitted. If you don’t consider this when devising a sustainability strategy, your good intentions are hamstrung. A physical museum may be powered by green energy, but if its website is managed and hosted inefficiently or unsustainably, you’re missing an awful lot of carbon savings.
There are several ways websites can be decarbonised. Moving to a green hosting model can cut emissions by 9%. The Green Web Foundation provides a tool that checks whether a website is hosted on a green server, and a directory of clean energy hosts.
Once a website is hosted efficiently, it can be optimised to further cut emissions. Content optimisation can make information easier to find and cut the time users spend navigating. Using compressed or optimised images and videos can make a dramatic impact on a site’s carbon footprint. And there’s so much that can be done in the design and build of websites to limit their environmental impact.
Amy Czuba is a senior account manager at Nexer Digital