A large number of the world’s population relies on the Internet to communicate, read current news, as well as buy/sell goods and services. However, the server systems that host much of the World Wide Web’s information consume a lot of energy. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), data centers and servers consume about 1.3% of the world’s electricity. As the number of people with access to the inter net increases, the number of web hosting servers will also increase, which translates to a larger carbon footprint for each website and visitor. This is where green web hosting comes in handy. Below is some more information on this topic.
Overview of Green Web Hosting
A green web host is a business that provides hosting services while saving as much energy as possible. Most eco friendly web hosts generate energy from renewable resources such as solar and wind. In addition, such a host will strive to install and use energy efficient web servers. One way of increasing energy efficiency is by using server virtualization technology. A study published in the New York Times found that traditional servers tend to have energy inefficiencies because they have a low “utilization rate”. In simple terms, this means that such servers have a relatively low fraction of computing resources engaged in useful work. The beauty of using virtual servers is they reduce energy consumption and hardware maintenance costs. Research carried out at the University of Santa Cruz using 54 virtual servers managed to reduce energy use by a staggering 20 kW and electricity costs by $22,000 per year.
Green web hosting also involves safe disposal of obsolete equipment such as servers, server racks, and related computer equipment. Remember manufacturers of computing equipment and devices use toxic substances that could pollute the environment. For example, computer and server internals often contain mercury, lead, bromine, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), zinc carbon, nickel, silver oxide, and barium compounds. A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that exposure to lead can cause renal disease, anemia, and neurological disorders. Moreover, the EPA has labeled phthalates (found in PVC) as carcinogens. With this in mind, it is clear that green web hosting involves more than using renewable energy to power web servers.
Choosing A Green Web Host
Choosing an eco friendly web host is not easy. To start with, verifying a web host’s claims of running a green enterprise is almost impossible. Your web host’s physical location could be thousands of kilometers away from where you live making it hard to visit. Secondly, choosing one host from a pool of hundreds or thousands of web hosts can be daunting. Nevertheless, you can still sift through available hosts and come out with one who suits your energy efficiency needs. Factors to consider include:
Choose a host who has acquired certification to show that web-hosting servers run on green energy. Make sure the certificate comes from a well-known and reputable organization such as the EPA and EcoLogo.
Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Purchase
A web hosting company may be unable to run its servers on 100% green energy. This could be due to factors such as inability to access renewable energy or availability of cheaper energy sources. In such a case, a web host could opt to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to offset non renewable energy use. Make sure your web host has the certification (REC) to prove that your website will be as green as possible.
Energy Star Certification
Just like household appliances, web servers also come with Energy Star ratings. Find out whether your host has installed Energy Star certified servers. The EPA’s Energy Star program uses a Server Efficiency Rating Tool (SERT) to determine the amount of energy consumed while a server is busy (active load power consumption). Besides focusing on web hosting equipment alone, Energy Star has a certification program for data and web hosting centers. This program focuses on the entire building or facility that houses a web host’s equipment. The aim is to ensure that companies that provide web-hosting services comply with the EPA’s power usage effectiveness (PUE) benchmark. Every shred of evidence you can get to show that the host you are eyeing has acquired Energy Star certification is important. If you a host does not have any form of certification, take your business elsewhere.
A green web hosting company that is serious about energy efficiency will have the same policy in a written document. Go through your host’s policy carefully to find out whether there is evidence of promoting green energy use. According to the EPA, FatCow Web Hosting is one company that is committed to minimizing their carbon footprint through the use of renewable energy certificates.
All in all, green web hosting can make a huge difference when it comes to reducing your website’s carbon footprint. Shop around and choose a host who has Energy Star certification, green certification from a body like the EPA, or purchases REC’s.