Carbon Footprint

Why Your Website’s Carbon Footprint Matters on Earth Day 2024

As our understanding of climate change continues to grow and we are able to identify large emitters, the tech industry cannot be ignored due to the large data centers that run 24/7. For this reason, using green web hosting services is a must.

Unlike traditional web hosts, green web hosting companies can lower their impact on the environment in a variety of ways. And by extension, anyone’s website hosted by them will have a smaller carbon footprint or none at all.

For example, here at GreenGeeks, we calculate exactly how much energy our servers use and then purchase three times that amount in clean wind energy. This not only offsets the emissions but also helps us reduce emissions in general.

Let’s take a look at the importance of eliminating your website’s carbon footprint for Earth Day 2024.

How Do Data Centers Impact the Environment?

The rapid rise of digital goods and services has created an unprecedented demand for data centers to house user data on servers. These servers operate 24/7 and consume more than 200 TWh of energy.

Naturally, this makes them a large emitter that has quickly outgrown the aviation industry. Today, data centers are estimated to account for 1-1.5% of all electricity use in the world, which generates 3.5% of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This number will only continue to grow as the tech industry does, and that has no signs of slowing down whatsoever.

However, while the electricity usage concerns remain one of the biggest, it is not the only impact web hosting has on the environment. Those familiar with data centers should know that the servers they house generate a lot of heat and need to be cooled down.

To do this, a lot of data centers use water to cool the machines, which can range anywhere from 1 to 5 million gallons of water a day.

Water will become scarcer than oil as droughts become more common. And in many cases, these data centers are built in drought-prone areas, thus only making the problems more pronounced.

It is also worth pointing out that data centers are not small. An average full-scale data center is about 100,000 square feet. This means constructing one is no small feat and takes up a large plot of land further adding to its impact.

How Can Green Web Hosting Companies Help Solve This?

On average, a website is responsible for about 4,500 pounds of carbon dioxide yearly, which is equivalent to driving an average passenger vehicle 5,225 miles. Considering that there are millions of websites, we have a big problem.

A green web hosting company can help with this concern by eliminating, or significantly reducing, the number of emissions your site is responsible for. Each green web hosting company tackles this problem differently.

Let’s take a moment and look at what we do to tackle this problem at GreenGeeks.

First and foremost, we address the energy usage directly. At GreenGeeks, you can rest easy knowing that your website is not leaving a carbon footprint, but instead reducing the amount of carbon in general.

This is done by carefully calculating how much energy our websites utilize, then we purchase three times that amount in clean wind energy, which means we don’t just compensate for our energy usage, we add more clean energy into the grid to offset others as well.

Another tactic we use is a strategic partnership with One Tree Planted. Every time a new account is created with us, we plant a tree. To date, we have planted 40,000 trees. Each tree acts as a carbon sponge, helping us lower global emissions.

On average, a single tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. That means the trees we have planted are responsible for removing 1,920,000 pounds of carbon each year as they grow.

Significance of your Website’s Carbon Footprint

One of the biggest problems facing the push to go green is the lack of understanding of what a carbon footprint actually means.

A carbon footprint is a measurement of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) that we create. It can be applied on a personal or business level.

The Green House effect is a process that happens in Earth’s atmosphere where the Sun’s heat is trapped by certain gases. While there are many heat-trapping gasses, none match Carbon dioxide when it comes to pure quantity.

In 2022, the annual carbon dioxide average was 418.56 PPM. To put this number into perspective, in 1960, it was just under 320 PPM. That’s a net increase of over 30%, which is causing the temperature around the world to rise.

This not only endangers wildlife, but humanity as a whole. Higher temperatures will damage food production as crops can only grow under certain conditions, not to mention melting polar ice caps.

As a result, the sea is rising, which puts coastal regions around the world at risk of flooding. Not to mention increasing the likelihood of natural disasters like hurricanes, as the water will also become warmer.

No matter how big or small your website is, the impact it has on the environment is unavoidable.

For example, let’s say you have a blog that barely gets any traffic. Regardless of the amount of traffic you have, the server hosting it will operate 24/7. So, you see, even the smallest of websites can still contribute greatly to climate change.

Only a green web hosting company can help solve this problem.

Data Centers Will Shrink Their Emissions Thanks to Technological Innovations

It’s important to point out that technological innovations are being made that will have a significant impact on data centers.

For example, one of the main challenges of any data center is keeping the servers cool. If they get too hot, the heat damages the hardware and can take them offline, which interrupts services.

For this reason, a lot of money and energy is spent on cooling systems.

Liquid cooling systems, in particular, are going to significantly change the way data centers operate as they can reduce cooling costs by 70% and further reduce the amount of electricity these centers utilize.

A more obvious example of innovations in the field can be seen by incorporating renewable energy.

In between 2015 and 2020, the carbon footprint of data centers remained flat despite electricity consumption increasing. This is due to the adoption of powering data centers through renewable energy.

Today, some of the biggest companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft power their data centers with 100% renewable energy.

There have also been efficiency improvements that have helped keep the overall energy needed to operate data centers from rising exponentially. In fact, the amount of computing done in these centers increased 550%, while the electricity consumption only rose 6%.

As technological innovations continue, data centers will ultimately see their impact on the environment shrink.

The problem is that the demand for data centers is outpacing the innovations.

AI Will Double the Demand for Data Centers by 2030

You may be thinking that the demand can’t keep increasing at its current rate, and you would be correct.

It’s going to get worse.

There has been a buzzword that is taking the tech industry by storm: Artificial Intelligence (AI). As virtually every major corporation enters an AI arms race with one another, the computing power these will require is staggering.

By 2030, the data center capacity in the United States will double as a result.

For those unaware, AI’s top-performing searches, data compilation, and conclusions made from inquiries in a matter of seconds takes a tremendous number of resources. And in no uncertain terms, everything will utilize some form of AI in the future.

For example, when you perform a Google search, you will now see an AI-generated answer at the top of most searches. Another example would be using AI plugins to help you manage a WordPress site.

Nearly every major company is expected to utilize AI by 2030, which will push demand higher than ever.

Earth Day Goals Everyone Can Commit To

This year, has highlighted ways that everyone from individuals to businesses can go green by providing actionable toolkits that your business can follow.

The theme for Earth Day 2024 is “Planet vs. Plastics”, with a goal to reduce plastic production by 60% by 2040.

They are a great starting point for any business, so let’s go over some of the key points you will find.

Go Paperless

This might seem hypocritical considering this just creates more demand for data centers, but the benefits of going paperless cannot be ignored. Normally, businesses will use a lot of paper for filing documents, printing billing statements, and so on.

All of this paper comes at the expense of cutting down trees, which act as a natural carbon sponge.

Of course, for some businesses, the elimination of paper use is just not practical. Thus, your aim should be to reduce it significantly. A great tip is to ensure you print on both sides of the paper. And any paper you do need afterward should be recycled.

It has never been easier to go paperless, which is why most businesses today are pushing customers into paperless statements and trying to communicate exclusively through email. If this is an option, consider starting today.

Use Energy Efficient Devices and Lights

Office buildings big and small use a lot of energy under normal circumstances. One way to easily reduce that is by using energy-efficient appliances and lighting for the office. Doing so will save money, and lower your carbon footprint.

Let’s take a minute to look at the cost savings potential of switching to energy-saving lightbulbs.

Today, energy-saving refers to Light-Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs that on average last 25,000 hours compared to the incandescent bulb that only lasts 750 hours. Over the course of its life, an LED bulb will save around $81 depending on your energy rate.

When you consider that a typical office building has dozens or even hundreds of lightbulbs, the savings are easy to see. The same logic applies to all kinds of appliances your office will need. You can identify energy-efficient devices by checking the packaging.

Turn Devices Off or Enable Auto-Sleep

Most office buildings are filled to the brim with computers, printers, and all types of devices. They can use a lot of electricity, thus ensuring they are off when not in or are in a low-power state can help cut your electricity usage.

This not only helps the environment but also helps save your business money. You may be wondering, how much money can it really save? Well, just putting a single computer to sleep can save between $10 to $50 depending on the device and electricity rate a year.

Luckily, it is incredibly easy to enable sleep-mode settings and only takes a few minutes.

Incorporate Renewable Energy

Ensuring that your business is powered by renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, or hydroelectric is a great way to reduce your business’s carbon footprint. And in the case of solar, it can actually save you a lot of money.

Solar energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels over the lifespan of the solar panel. The issue for many is that the initial price can be quite high. Another option is to offset what you use by purchasing clean energy.

This can help you lower or eliminate your carbon footprint altogether.

Find An Eco-Friendly Web Hosting Company

Every business needs a website because it allows your business to reach a wider audience. Today, the majority of consumers look online before entering a store to check out what it offers and if it is worth their time.

Thus, finding an eco-conscious web host is one of the most important steps you can take when making your business green. Depending on your website’s popularity, millions of people may view it.

That’s why partnering with a green web hosting company like GreenGeeks can ensure your website does not create a carbon footprint, and instead can be another way your business is being environmentally conscious.

GreenGeeks, a leading green web host, has been an EPA Green Power Partner since 2009 and returns 3 times the amount of renewable energy we consume back into the grid.

Celebrate Earth Day 2024 By Signing Up for Green Web Hosting

Each year, everyone thinks about what they can do for Earth Day. The best part is that there is so much anyone can do to reduce their impact on the planet’s climate.

Switching to a green web host is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint without really changing much from a business perspective. In fact, plans at GreenGeeks are some of the most affordable in the industry with a month of service costing less than a cup of coffee each month.

Combine that with our excellent service featuring 99.9% uptime, lightning-fast speeds thanks to our SSD-powered servers, and a knowledgeable support team standing by to answer all of your questions.

Switching to GreenGeeks will not only lower your carbon footprint but also improve your website’s performance.

What is your business planning to do for Earth Day 2024?