Green hosting – how to make your company website more ecofriendly

Web hosting has been criticized for its high energy consumption. The industry is responding with sustainable green hosting options. We explore how green hosting works and how your company can use it.

Green hosting uses sustainable data centers.
Image: © Vadim Kaipov / unsplash

Green hosting as a climate protection measure

As workplaces become more and more digitalized, we’re saving paper on a daily basis, driving to the office less, and generally acting more sustainably. However, the increase in data traffic also has a dark side from an environmental perspective. Environmentalists especially deplore the high energy consumption of servers and data centers. In 2016, Greenpeace reported that the world’s data centers were already consuming 416 terawatt hours of electricity a year. It’s therefore no surprise that a greater number of companies are incorporating this aspect into their sustainability strategy and want to become more ecofriendly by using green IT. To make sure that the energy consumption of data centers doesn’t get in the way of those environmental efforts, many web hosting services are now offering “green hosting”.

416 terawatt hours
electricity a year (Greenpeace report 2016)

What is green hosting?

The data on your website is stored in data centers that are equipped with multiple servers. Some big companies operate their own data centers, but most businesses rent servers from hosting providers. In contrast to conventional hosting, green hosting means, for example, that the data centers are powered by energy from sustainable sources. The sustainability of your company’s online presence therefore depends on how your hosting provider powers its data center. For that reason, gaining an overview is your first step – maybe your website is already being hosted “green”?

Practical tools for checking your website

In order to take the right measures, you first need to determine the status quo of your website. There is a wide range of practical tools for this purpose, and they each have their own set of data. If data is available about your online presence or your host, you can assess how green your website already is.

The Website Carbon calculator rates your website and provides you with a wealth of data on your carbon footprint. It also gives you helpful information on how it could be hosted in an even greener way.

The check offered by the Green Web Foundation works according to a similar principle. It’s also easy to share the data with your hosting provider.

If your website isn’t being hosted green yet, our five criteria will help you find a suitable provider.

Five criteria for green hosting

A fundamental prerequisite for green hosting is that the server center has to be operated using green energy. However, that is just one of many criteria determining the sustainability of a hosting provider. Here’s a complete breakdown:

#1 The data center is powered by green energy.

A data center requires large amounts of energy because the servers need to be supplied with electricity and cooled to stop them from overheating. It’s therefore all the more important that the building is operated using green energy. Ask your provider for proof of this.

#2 The data center is operated as efficiently as possible and offers shared hosting.

A green hosting provider doesn’t just think about where it gets its energy from, it also ensures that this energy is used as efficiently as possible. For example, it might recycle the waste heat generated by the servers to heat homes or use free air cooling to prevent the computers from overheating.

To achieve a high level of energy efficiency, shared hosting also comes into play. That gives small companies with not much traffic the option to share a server (and thus an IP address) in order to lower costs and emissions.

#3 The hosting provider sets its own sustainability goals.

It’s always a good sign when the hosting provider sets its own sustainability goals, for example by implementing environmental projects to offset the emissions produced by its data center. As a result, you indirectly reduce your company’s carbon footprint as well.

#4 The provider takes a sustainable approach to its hardware.

For maximum transparency with regard to the sustainability of a data center, you should also find out how your provider treats its hardware. If it performs regular maintenance and recycles hardware once it is at the end of its service life, your website will be one step closer to being hosted green.

#5 The hosting provider has obtained sustainability certificates

When choosing a green hosting provider, keep an eye out for various certificates. In Germany, for example, data centers can be certified with the “Blauer Engel” (Blue Angel) ecolabel. There are also certificates for green electricity, the data center’s energy management system, and much more.

Green hosting is at the heart of green IT

Nowadays, a company’s environmental commitment often goes beyond merely controlling its own emissions. The term “green IT” encompasses a vast array of measures relating to a company’s web presence and digital work processes. Green hosting is an essential part of green IT. It enables you to lay a stable, sustainable foundation for your company’s online presence in order to take gradual steps toward a green future.