Abstract: When people talk about business ethics, they often say that there are many shades of gray. The same has become true for green as well. A large percentage of web hosting companies have adopted the “green” label to leverage the environmental awareness of their customers. However some have been much more successful than others. If you are looking for a web hosting company that truly is green, it is going to require a little bit research. Since there is no “standard” to determine what is green and what isn’t, it is up to you to decide which web hosting companies have adopted the greenest strategies.
One of the latest trends in web hosting is using green practices, which is great, sort of. The problem is that some “green” web hosting companies are green in name only. They are not really altering their practices enough to truly be environmentally friendly. The reason that green web hosting has become so popular is that most people know, or quickly discover, how much energy data centers consume.
Because of this web hosting companies want to claim that they are green to leverage the power that environmental awareness has created. Unfortunately, being green can mean a lot of different things and it really doesn’t take any effort to become a green web hosting company. If you are looking for green hosting company then it is important to know what to look for to determine how green they actually are.
The most common practice that web hosting companies use to “go green” is purchasing carbon credits. The goal of purchasing carbon credits is to offset the environmental impact of running their business. The effectiveness of carbon credits has been widely debated since they became a common practice. The problem is that unless there is some “additionality” there is actually no net gain for the environment. So companies who purchase credits for 100% of their energy use are not actually helping the environment, but rather creating stasis. On the other hand, companies that purchase more carbon credits than the amount of energy they use, are creating a positive impact on the environment. Many green web hosting companies purchase 110% of their carbon footprint, which means that they are creating an additionality of 10%.
Actually Using Renewable Energy
Instead of purchasing Carbon Credits, some companies are actually directly using renewable energy sources, most commonly solar or wind. This means that these companies are not creating carbon in the first place. If the “green-factor” is a priority, then it can be argued that web hosting companies that directly use renewable energy sources should be considered more green than those who purchase carbon credits. This is because the companies who purchase carbon credits are still creating a carbon footprint, it is just being offset by an environmentally friendly action taken by another company, whereas by using renewable energy directly, there is no carbon created in the first place.
Looking At Other Practices
Another way to determine how environmentally friendly a web hosting company actually is, is to look at their day to day practices. Some common ways that web hosting companies have addressed their day to day practices include:
Replacing older, energy inefficient servers with newer more energy efficient servers. This will cut down the energy consumption that is required in the first place, which is always a benefit to the environment.
Using new technologies to reduce the amount of heat that is radiated from the servers. This helps the environment because it takes a lot of energy to keep servers cool. This could be using speed stepping technologies or utilizing a more efficiently designed data center. One example of this is using the hot air the servers produce to heat employee offices during the cooler months, instead of using traditional heaters.
Eliminating paper waste is another great way to be more green. This doesn’t just apply to web hosting companies because paper waste is one of the biggest impacts that many businesses have on the environment. A web hosting company is the perfect candidate to go paperless because so much of their work can be done over the internet.
Some web hosting companies have taken even larger steps such as employee carpooling incentives, planting trees, and even giving discounts to sites that are active in community service.
As you can see, there are many shades of green, so choosing a green web host can mean a lot different things. If choosing an environmentally friendly web host is important to you, then it is vital that you take a closer look at what their green practices actually are. The greenest companies have gone far beyond minimizing the impact of their data centers energy usage and being environmentally responsible has become a mantra that is passed down to even entry level employees.
This article is written by Roko Nastic, writer and editor at WebmasterFormat.com. He is a full time blogger and webmaster always willing to share his knowledge and thoughts on web development, content management systems, blogging and web hosting issues.
For a longer Bio on Roko Click Here
The top picture is of the Babage Difference Engine proposed 1822… built 1990(ish)
Other Guest writers