green hosting is using methods such as renewable energy and less powerful servers. any practice that can lessen the damage hosting does to the environment.
i'm starting to think that websites don't have to be up all of the time, therefore helping the environment. they could be like shops - open for a certain number of hours each day. i don't know if this would actually work - it's just a theory. would people accept that or do they want it 24/7.
The idea behind green hosting is a simple one. They promise that their company in a whole (counting the servers they are hosting on) do not negatively impact the environment. Green Web Hosting has become a major consideration over the last couple of years, and due to the already massive and still increasing global energy demands of the IT industry, green energy web hosting is here to stay.
The whole point to a site is having is open 24/7 which allows company to operate on a global scale.
As far as hosting the actual site goes, people can choose a VPS provider that is hosted on an energy efficient server. This allows them to only subscribe for the resources they currently need and not waste energy on resources they 'may' need in the future. In terms of hardware, they should choose a provider that is using some of the latest technology as the power to energy ratio always seems to be increasing and that is always a better way to preserve the energy - using it more efficiently.
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As I understand, some hosting companies called themselves "Green" because they bought "renewable energy credits" from companies generating green electricity i.e. windmills. Electricity generated is released to the general electricity grid. What the hosting companies did was they access their overall electricity consumption and then bought the equivalent or more credits. So indirectly, they are supporting renewable energy.
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As cyberdigi said many hosts purchase renewable energy certificates and carbon offsets to become green, although carbon neutral would be more accurate. By doing this the host must calculate their power consumption and pay to offset it through companies that fund projects like methane digesters, wind farms, hydroelectric, etc...
The truth of the matter is without something like this going green would be very hard as you cant really slap a solar panel ontop of a server and the number of totally green data centers are slim to non.