How sustainable is the internet that we use, or more particularly, how environmentally sustainable is my web hosting company?
Before answering this question, let’s look at the situation in the IT sector when it comes to efficient energy use.
Table of Contents
- Is The Internet Sustainable?
- How Do I Know I Am Choosing A Sustainable Internet Service Provider?
- What Does Wetopi Do To Become an Environmentally Sustainable Web Hosting Company?
Is The Internet Sustainable?
Many of us take a lot of decisions in our day-to-day life on how to live more sustainably:
- we select different types of waste at home,
- try to take public transportation,
- avoid company meetings that could be held online,
- get information on how to live more sustainably from our social media, …
But, paradoxically, we use the Internet more and more without really thinking much about the impact. What could we do about it anyway?
- Limit Unnecessary Streaming (60% of internet traffic comes from streaming platforms).
- Avoid unnecessary emailing.
- Delete unused mail.
- Remove the unused files you store in the cloud.
- Build websites with white background.
but what about having a more energy efficient infrastructure?
Our Internet is supported by Data Centers, also called server farms: enormous spaces housing energy-intensive servers that store and distribute massive amounts of data.
Are Data Centers energy-efficient?
Data centers are far from being considered an ecologically efficient business, but hosting the servers there is far far more efficient in terms of energy consumption than hosting the servers on-premise.
In the Uptime Institute’s 2021 Data Center Industry Survey Results, it is remarked that despite the big improvements made up to 2010 in terms of PUE ( Power Usage Effectiveness, a common metric used to measure energy use efficiency), the trend has somewhat flatlined in recent years. The main reason is that it is technically and economically difficult for some older data centers to invest in processes and equipment to improve energy efficiency1..
An environmentally sustainable web hosting is not easy to develop, let’s be honest.
How Do I Know I Am Choosing A Sustainable Internet Service Provider?
How eco-friendly can you be as a hosting service provider?
In the end, there is a whole supply chain above you. It could easily fall within the greenwashing techniques we continuously see in other companies. Although measures are taken and monitored when it comes to Power usage, other resources used by Data Centers, such as the use of water resources (for cooling i.e.) are not being considered yet.
Nevertheless, if you are curious about which Data Centers are working in this direction, What is green cloud storage is an interesting post from Cloudwards that contains a list of the most environmentally friendly Cloud Data Services.
Is there an index to evaluate efficient energy consumption in Web hosting?
Imagine you run a company, you care about the environment and implement actions to protect it, but you host your web in the cheapest web hosting company possible, it is cost-saving, of course. As we already pointed out in our post about the different types of web hosting companies, you will see that some of them will have a hard time making a profit out of your subscription, let alone devote money to planting trees or taking any commitment against global warming.
Although Robeco created the DJSI index (Dow Jones Sustainability Index) to help investors choose environmentally and socially responsible companies to invest in, this index is far from being useful for the daily lives of the average person.
Another index, used to evaluate the compliance of IT products with environmentally responsible production is TCO. They have certified the first servers for data centers, but they do not hold any Data Center itself in their portfolio yet. Nevertheless, we hope they will in the near future.
There is not a definitive independent environmental sustainability index we can rely on, as web hosters
So, it seems that the Internet, although critical to so many businesses, has grown faster than those who can bring understanding and solutions to the general public about what a sustainable internet should look like, and how this can be a factor when choosing your web hosting service.
How could a digital marketing professional that works for a company, whose core business is being and acting eco-friendly, choose a hosting company that takes measures for sustainable development?
The truth is that it is really difficult for professionals or users to make a choice in this direction.
Actually, transparency is not a reality in the internet supply chain economy.
What other ways do I have to evaluate if the web hosting company is eco-friendly?
Due to the lack of a reliable independent index, you are in the hands of your web hosting company.
This is when the kind of relationship you have with them plays an important role. A trustworthy, human-level kind of relationship with your hosting company adds value to your decisions.
What Does Wetopi Do To Become an Environmentally Sustainable Web Hosting Company?
The Wetopi team has always been concerned about climate change and the fair use of resources. We usually wondered what actions we could take to minimize our impact. We believe in taking and giving back. Is economical growth possible, returning a part, or ideally everything, of what we take to nature?
In 2019, the Wetopi team decided to take marketing action and give away some merchandising products. As it usually happens, we thought of giving away pens with the Wetopi brand. However, something did not quite fit: by importing a huge amount of plastic we were not being honest with our personal principles and the principles that we wanted for the company. So we gave up this first idea and organized instead the purchase and delivery of pine tree seeds, creating this way the Wetopi Pine Tree Challenge.
Wetopi included the badge created by Web Carbon Calculator, property of Wholegrain, at the bottom of the home page. It shows how efficient our site is in respect of others. You may follow their recommendations when creating a site for your business.
When it comes to hosting our customer’s websites, Wetopi chose a Data Center that is free from air conditioning. They use instead a mix of air cooling plus water cooling, achieving a PUE of 1-1.2 . This value is below the average PUE of the Uptime Institute Report of 1.57, which you can see in the image further up in this post.
Additionally, starting March 2022 we will deliver more sustainable management for our named Playground or Staging servers. Servers with sites that have not been active for a week will be stopped, saving therefore the energy that would otherwise go straight to waste.
Each and every person at Wetopi commits to taking care of the environment inside and outside the company. We know there is a long road ahead of us and we are a small part of a whole.
“Little drops of water make the mighty ocean.”Julia Carney
We are constantly striving to make our company more eco-friendly and believe in the power of the community: what other solutions, as a hosting company are you applying? We would love to hear.
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