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What is a low carbon website and why do I need one?

Curious about what a low-carbon website is? Wondering if you need to invest in one? This article will provide you with insight and answers (and some actionable solutions).

What is a a low-carbon website?

In the simplest possible terms, it’s a website hosted on servers run on 100% renewable energy servers and has a clear strategy that aims to reduce load speed—using various techniques, including SEO and image optimisation.

There is also the added benefit of increasing traffic to your site, helping to sell your products and services or share your vision with the world.

A World Wide Web

If you haven’t heard by now that we live in one of the most critical periods in humanity’s existence, well, then clearly, you’ve been living in a digital void. I won’t go into the depths of the Environmental, Ecological and Social Emergencies we face in this post; however, a quick Ecosia search will bring you up to speed if you’re curious.

We are in the throes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is “characterised by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human”(Schwab, 2021).

Naturally, this includes the world wide web, and more accurately, the Internet of Things (IoT), of which your website is part. Although seldom considered by the average website owner, the amount of resources and energy required to run a data centre and for customers to view this information is significant. And what comes with large consumption of energy? You guessed it… large quantities of climate-altering GHG emissions (also referred to as Carbon Dioxide Equivalents / CO2e)! Depending on the amount of monthly traffic you get, the more significant your contribution to these global emission numbers will be.

This graph by Statista breaks down the global emissions per category for 2020 (which was a significant year, as the internet became a life-work line for the world) from data provided by Green Peace.

Data, Data, Data

It’s safe to say, the amount of data being produced is rising exponentially year on year. One 2017 report by Huawei even used the visceral and emotive analogy of “a tsunami of data” to qualify their point. It says that by 2025 internet-connected devices could consume up to 20% of the world’s electricity and emit up to 5.5% of global warming emissions. You can find lots of this alarming or alarmist (depending on which side of the lobbying fence you sit) by doing a quick search of the internet. But the truth is, I don’t need to present a bunch of alarmist facts and figures to emphasise the point. Just think about how much time you spend on your devices each day, from reading the news to scrolling social media, shopping for your wants and needs, learning about the things that matter to you, or simply chilling out in front of your favourite streaming service.

Could the problem be the solution?

Vujà Dé Creative Solutions says it in the name. It is my mission to offer real solutions to my clients, making everyday things simpler, easier and clearer so that they can play their part in driving the change we need to see from individuals to countries alike if we are to achieve the ambitious but vital goals science is telling us we need to sustain life on earth. Therefore, I will endeavour to write articles and offer services that are informative and offer practical solutions and do so with hope. Hope for a world we all want to live in. So, can the problem become the solution? Well, yes, yes, it can! According to an article by World Economic Forum, digital technology can help cut global emissions by 15% by 2030.

Do I need a low-carbon website?

In short, yes. But it’s never really that simple, is it?

Websites are one of the most valuable tools to share ideas, stories, services, and products to help us make a green and just transition. Suppose your business is working towards net-zero targets, and you are heavily reliant on your website to run your business. In that case, a low-carbon website might be something you want to consider sooner rather than later. Or, perhaps you are just someone who cares about your impact on the environment and society? In which case, you may already be engaging in communicating this with your customers or audience. Either or, ensuring that as many of the tools you use to sustain your business are aligned to your values makes good business sense. Now, I am not suggesting that if you have a website that’s working for you, but it’s built on platforms such Squarespace or Wix, or is hosted on servers that don’t cut the mustard on The Green Web Foundation’s web checker that you need to panic. Websites are not cheap endeavours, and they require a lot of time and personal energy, so jumping ship may not be a practical or sustainable solution for you and your business. Instead, consider ways in which you can optimise your current site and reduce your energy use.

Here are some simple actions you can take today:

  • Make sure your copy is SEO optimised
  • Ensure your images are optimised
  • Declutter your inbox
  • Update or remove old content that is not serving you or customers
  • Have a policy that insists all devices are powered off when not in use – and unplugged at the wall
  • Ask you hosting provider what their energy reduction strategies are and what environmental policies are in place. Encourage them to transition to renewable energy.
  • As a final measure, you can offset any unavoidable emissions with organisations like CO2 Neutral Website.

And I’m not the only one talking about our digital carbon footprint! This infographic is from Raconteur and highlights some of the biggest digital emitters, and offers some useful ideas on where you can make digital CO2e emissions savings in your personal and business life.

The World’s Digital Carbon Footprint via Raconteur

If you’re in the market for a new website, then why not get in touch to see if VDC may be able to provide the solution you’re looking for. Let’s all play our part, however seemingly insignificant. We can have a positive influence on our customers, friends and family and even our competitors. But most importantly, we will be actively and responsibly working toward the future of potential and possibility.