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In: Web Design, Website Development

Have you ever wondered about the environmental impact of your website? According to The Shift Project, the internet and associated devices contribute to 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions. Green web hosting services consider the environmental impacts of web hosting and if you’re running a website, so should you be.

They promote sustainable practices, support other environmentally friendly organizations, use high-efficiency cooling and low-power servers, and plant trees across their data centers. Many of these data centers are powered by renewable energy. If you’re creating an ecologically friendly brand, business, or website, we’ll help you pick a green web host for your brand or business’s site.

Green web hosting—what does it mean?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a green web host: certifications, sustainability, environmental impact, and community involvement.

Consider certified green web hosts, via Orange.

Certifications

Choose a certified green web host to ensure they’re serious about the environment. The 2 most popular types of green certifications are:

  • Renewable Energy Certificates, aka REC: These certifications are given by renewable energy companies. They certify the energy used by a web hosting platform is provided by low or zero-emission electricity sources. Certified hosts send electricity back to the grid. These are measured in megawatt-hours.
  • Carbon Offset Certificate, aka VER or voluntary emission reduction: These certificates indicate the amount of greenhouse gases reduced by the webhost. Generally, larger webhosts with a greater carbon footprint will acquire carbon offset certificates since their datacenters use more resources. These units are measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Certifications build credibility and trust. For more information on offsets and RECs, the Environmental Protection Agency has a handy PDF.

Measuring sustainability & environmental impact

As more designers focus on sustainable practices and measures, it’s imperative for web hosts to recognize sustainability as well. Green web hosts understand the growing needs and expansion of the web.

 Portion of a detailed infographic about the carbon footprint of the web.
Portion of a detailed infographic, by Climate Care.

If you’re a company or startup who, along with your target audience, values your environmental impact then you need to consider how to lessen your carbon footprint—digitally.  So research the green initiatives happening on and offline that appeal to you, your website, and your userbase.

Combat the internet’s rising carbon footprint

A study performed by McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada determined at current rates, the internet could account for 14% of total global carbon footprint. Like this professor asking his students to think about sustainability tools, start considering yours. Research and analyse the environmental impact of the web host you’re using, using their “about” page as a starting point.

Are they involved in community engagements, such as organizing environmentally friendly activities? Are they carbon neutral or carbon negative:

  • Carbon neutral simply means the web hosting sites removes the same amount of carbon dioxide it releases.
  • Carbon negative indicates the hosting site removes more carbon dioxide than emits, which remarkably bolsters the impact of its sustainability measures. If you want to check a website’s carbon footprint, take a look at a website carbon calculator.

What green web hosting services do is consider the environmental impact of their datacenters and servers. However, consideration is not enough to offset the long-term impact of the internet’s rising global footprint. Some are acutally powered by green energy whereas others offset their footprint as compensation for energy usage.

Green web hosting illustration
Illustration by OrangeCrush

Watch out for greenwashing

Be wary of web hosts marketing themselves as “green” but do not make significant contributions or offsets to the environment’s well-being.

Look for warning signs, such as lack of data to boost their eco-friendly claims on their website. Overly pompous wording is also a telltale sign of overcompensation. These red flags might be on the provider’s about section of their site. If a webhost has REC or CER certificates, you can trust their credibility. A service that lacks certificates or statistical data regarding their energy consumption is attempting to appeal to eco-minded consumers without any action towards “going green.” This marketing tactic is called greenwashing.

Choose an energy-efficient server

Green web hosting services may lower power usage through implementing energy-efficient servers. These servers’ processors have a lower thermal design power (TDP) than conventional server processors. They may even use low-voltage RAM. Many green web hosts use only solid-state drives (SSDs), for storage. The biggest advantages they have over hard drives are:

When choosing a green web host, research how and where their data is stored. Ask them which environmentally friendly initiatives they execute.

The Best Green Web Hosting Services

Unsure how to switch your brand or business’s site to a greener alternative? The best green hosting sites focus on reducing environmental damage, sustainability, contribute to community and environmental initiatives, and are certified either through offsets or RECs. Determine your budget and target audience before selecting a provider.

We’ve rounded up a selection of our favorite green web hosting sites to choose for your brand in 2022, so without further ado, let’s check them out!

SiteGround

SiteGround offers a variety of web hosting services, such as cloud hosting, WordPress, eCommerce, and others. They are known for their reliability. This Bulgarian web host offsets carbon emissions and has moved their infrastructure to Google Cloud. This is a carbon-neutral platform. They offer electric cars, bikes, and free charging parking spots for their employees. SiteGround has a page dedicated to their green initiatives.

landing page of Siteground web hosting service
Image via Siteground

Siteground’s pros:

  • Uses Google Cloud infrastructure to achieve carbon neutrality
  • Plants trees on and around its main office in Bulgaria
  • Offers some of the best reliability and uptime in the industry
  • Very good customer service
  • Free daily backups

Siteground’s cons:

  • Not as affordable as competitors

Using a green web host is a great way to help reduce any brand or company’s carbon footprint and Siteground’s dedication to green initiatives can give the environmentally-conscious designer peace of mind about their product’s environmental impact.

inmotion

inmotion logo
Image via inmotion

inmotion is a green host that prioritizes security and sustainability. They are partnered with Trees for the Future, working together to plant over 5,000 trees globally. inmotion was the first datacenter based in Los Angeles to utilize an air circulation system that exhausts hot air and circulates cooler, outside air. This reduces their cooling energy costs by almost 70%. While other hosts primarily focus on offsets, inmotion aims for reducing their company’s energy usage.

inmotion’s pros:

+ Unique ventilation system that reduces cooling costs by nearly 70%

+ Unlimited bandwidth

+ Emphasis on security, such as free SSL

+ SSD storage

+ Reliable, high-quality support

inmotion’s cons:

– Limited basic plans

– Servers are only based in United States

Remember, your branding doesn’t necessarily need to market itself as “green” in order to care about sustainability and the planet’s longevity. But a green web host like inmotion allows users to make a small change to go greener, with a secure alternative to the usual hosting options.

A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting logo
Via A2 Hosting

Michigan-based A2 Hosting provides fast, reliable hosting which adheres to many green initiatives. Their green mission is stated on their website as “protecting the environment for our future generations.” They were one of the first web hosts to offer SSD hosting.

A2 Hosting reuses, recycles, or sells their old servers to minimize electronic waste. Their data center’s hosting equipment is installed on hot and cold aisles to reduce the amount of air temperature control needed, which reduces energy usage by cooling. They also heavily encourage employees to work from home to diminish CO2 emissions from commuting. A paperless company, A2 hosting also do not use printers.

A2 Hosting’s pros

+ Strong green initiatives backed by data

+ Carbon neutral

+ Highly secured servers

+ SSD storage

A2 Hosting’s cons

– No free domain

– Limited basic plan

GreenGeeks

GreenGeeks is one of the best-known and highly regarded green web hosts. A pioneer in the industry, the Californian hosting service has been certified by the EPA as a Green Power Partner. For each hosting account, the service plants a tree.

They’re partnered with Bonneville Environmental Foundation, who buys RECs to match three times more energy than the entire GreenGeeks company uses. All of this energy, which is the equivalent of two web hosting services, is then sent back to the grid.

GreenGeeks mission statement with eco-friendly themed imagery
Via GreenGeeks

GreenGeeks’ pros:

+ Offsets energy usage by 300%

+ Every hosted site is carbon-reducing

+ SSD storage

+ Unlimited storage space, databases, domains, and email

+ Industry leader in green hosting

GreenGeeks’ cons:

– Support is not 24/7

– High renewal rates

GreenGeeks’ strong reputation as a leader in green hosting makes it a surefire choice for your brand or business’s site with just as much flexibility, reliability as web hosts without green reputations.

iPage

iPage has hosted over 1 million websites since 1998. An experienced hosting service, they provide many features and flexible hosting options and offer some of the cheapest plans. The Arizona-based hosting company is entirely powered by wind energy. They purchase double the amount of RECs to offset their carbon footprint.

green web hosting service iPage's landing page
Via iPage

iPage’s pros

+ Offsets carbon footprint by 200%

+ Affordable, flexible plans

+ Many features

+ 24/7 chat and phone support

+ Easy to get started for beginners

iPage’s cons

– Performance could be better

– No free site backups

– Upsells during purchasing

If you’re on a budget, iPage’s affordable plans provide an ecologically sustainable way to host your site.

HostGator

HostGator is another green web host to consider for their 99.9% uptime, offsets, and affordable plans. They purchase RECs from wind farms to offset 130% of its energy consumption. The Texan web host provider serves over 2.5 million sites and uses high-efficiency servers. Considering the high volume of websites hosted, HostGator’s dedication to the environment is impressive.

HostGator landing page
Via HostGator

HostGator’s pros

+ Offsets 130% of energy consumption

+ 45-day money-back guarantee

+ 24/7 chat and phone support

+ SSD storage

+ Free domain transfer

HostGator’s cons

– No free backups

– Middling website performance

HostGator is an affordable, carbon-neutral contender in our top web hosting sites of 2022. They’re well established and favored by such a wide variety of small businesses already for transparency, reliability and ease of use.

Look for a greener future

Compare and contrast these green web hosts and do your research to figure out which one best satisfies your needs. By picking a green host, you will be assured your website is not harming the environment. After all, it’s all about giving back to the community and the planet.

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