Whether you’re planning a new website for a start-up business or recreating an existing corporate site, now is the perfect time to take a closer look at your hosting company and determine whether there might be more environmentally friendly options. Green or “carbon-neutral” web hosting is an increasingly popular choice… but what qualifies a hosting company as green, and how can you find one?
What is Green Web Hosting?
By now, we’ve become accustomed to companies making green choices in their everyday operations – choosing recycled paper products, for instance, or turning off lights and other machines when they’re not in use to save energy. Cleaner fuels create less smog, and recyclable packaging means less garbage goes into landfills. But to most of us, the Internet appears to exist without any physical elements. Isn’t it environmentally friendly by default?
Not exactly. The machines that power the Internet – such as the computers your host uses to store and publish your website files—consume an enormous amount of power, not to mention the physical space and administrative needs required by the hosting company. It’s possible for all of these to be provided in an environmentally responsible manner – but not all companies are willing to put in the extra effort and foresight. It’s up to you to decide which type of company you will support.
What Makes a Hosting Company Green or Carbon-Neutral?
There’s an influx of new, “green” hosting companies out there, using one or more of these solutions to offset the energy costs of running a website:
- Using wind or solar power provided by their own eco-friendly energy sources
- Buying electricity from Bullfrog and other green power companies
- Purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates from their energy company (representing eco-friendly energy sources)
- Donating to organizations that offset the carbon footprint of their operation by planting trees
- Implementing green office procedures to lessen energy consumption in the office: lights-out hours, carpools, solar-powered offices, telecommuting staff, paperless operations or recycled paper, discounts to non-profit organizations and environmental groups, less heating usage, and extra-efficient machines
Who Offers Green Web Hosting?
Green web hosts are all over the Internet these days, clamoring for your attention, but not all of them are created equal. Take the time to ask questions, comparing and contrasting the services and environmental benefits offered by various hosts. Below are a few of today’s most popular green hosting options:
- Dreamhost and Host Papa rely on Renewable Energy Certificates to support eco-friendly energy sources for their hosting operations.
- AISO is 100% powered by its own solar energy platform.
- Go Green Web Hosting is powered by wind energy.
- Ethical Hosting and PlanetAir both run on green energy from Bullfrog.
- ThinkHost offers solar- and wind-powered web hosting, and allows employees to telecommute. They also volunteer with socially progressive organizations.
- iPage is 100% wind powered.
- Green Geeks buys Renewable Energy Certificates worth three times the amount of energy they use, calling themselves 300% green hosting. They also minimize energy costs in the office and support telecommuting employees.
[NOTE: This list is not intended to reflect our recommendations for hosts, nor a complete listing of all green hosting companies, but merely a rundown of some of the available options.]
These and many other green hosting companies are paving the way to a new online business model that relies on sustainable power and eco-friendly choices to support our Earth, our neighbors, and our future.
The Cost and Value of Going Green
It might cost you a few extra dollars to get a hosting package from a company that offers a completely carbon-neutral service, but it’s worth the price – not only in the value of knowing your company’s choices will help to preserve the planet, but also in boosting your bottom line.
Green web hosting is a small investment that will make a big difference to many of your customers, clients, and colleagues. Today’s consumers are more aware of environmental impact than ever before, and many of them choose their products and services with an eye toward sustainable alternatives. Going green is a feel-good choice, and an easy way to show your concern for the Earth without sacrificing business growth or quality of service. So by leveraging the “marketability” of green hosting, you can actually bolster your value proposition to those consumers.