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Green web hosting

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What is green web hosting?

Green web hosting provides an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional forms of web hosting. Green web hosting companies take or have taken steps to reduce the environmental impact of resources used for web hosting to help protect the environment. Also called eco-friendly web hosting or environmentally friendly web hosting, it's a relatively new direction in the web hosting industry. The first mention of green web hosting in the Web Hosting Talk forum was in October 2007 (thread).

There is no industry definition of green web hosting, and web hosts that choose to be called a green web host do so based on a variety of actions. Some people view any steps taken to help the environment as positive, while others view the label of green web hosting as a marketing gimmick. Consumers who are interested in green web hosting need to look at the actions green web hosts take and decide how important those initiatives are to them.

Web hosting requires a lot of energy to run and maintain servers in a climate-controlled, flood- and fire-proof, electrical and fiber-redundant environment. Most green web hosting initiatives are in these categories:

  • Carbon offsetting (doing something to help the environment to offset the electricity usage from datacenters)
  • Environmental footprint reduction
  • Use of renewable energy sources

Carbon offsetting for green web hosting

Examples of carbon offsetting steps taken by green web hosts:

  • Have a tree planted for each client (per account or per time period). This step might be included with each account or be an option for an additional fee when purchasing a hosting plan.
  • Purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). The certificates represent renewable energy that's purchased from an electrical company, which distributes it through the electric grid. The web host doesn't use the renewable energy directly, but by buying RECs, it reduces the need for energy from non-renewable sources. RECs are also called Green tags, Renewable Energy Credits, and Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs).
  • Purchase Emission Reduction Credits (ERCs), which are government records of emission reductions. They can be used to offset future emission increases, transferred to another company, or retired.

Ways that green web hosts reduce their environmental footprint

Some of these steps that green web hosts take are specific to the web hosting industry, while others are steps that many businesses can take:

  • Use more energy-efficient servers.
  • Use backup generators that run on propane gas rather than diesel fuel.
  • Allow employees to work from home to cut down on the use of fossil fuels.
  • Run a solar-powered office.
  • Eliminate the use of paper in the office.
  • Recycle.

Use of renewable energy sources for green web hosting

Several datacenters fit the first description here:

  • The web host hosts servers in a datacenter that generates power from renewable forms of energy such as wind, solar, or geothermal.
  • The web host generates its own renewable power.

Other initiatives by green web hosts

  • Donate funds to environmental protection organizations.
  • Donate funds to other charities.

Web Hosting Wiki article text shared under a Creative Commons License.

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