The internet is often described as an “information superhighway” but unlike automobile highways, most people never see the “vehicles” that enable information to be stored and transmitted from one end of the world to the other in milliseconds. These vehicles are known as “servers” and servers, usually grouped together in data centers, are the physical backbone of the World Wide Web.
As the internet expands – doubling in size every year for much of its history – more and more servers are needed to keep it going, and more and more electricity is needed to power the servers. Though the energy efficiency of servers has increased dramatically in recent years, the total energy consumption is still rising because the internet is expanding so rapidly. In 2008, servers and data centers consumed as much energy as the entire US car manufacturing industry, which produced about 10 million cars that year. It is estimated that at the current rate, powering the internet will produce as many carbon emissions as the airline industry by the year 2020.
Green web hosting is one of the ways web hosting companies are trying to reduce their environmental impact, and it offers a great way for eco-minded consumers to put their money where their mouth is. By purchasing green web hosting, consumers can support the expansion of clean, renewable energy and other green projects.
What is Green Web Hosting?
What makes a web host green? Currently, there are a number of ways a web hosting company can go green.
The best way to go green is to run the web hosting service on renewable energy such as wind or solar power. This prevents any carbon from being emitted to power their office and data centers, and can be done either directly, by operating their servers on energy generated on-site or provided by power companies using wind turbines, solar panels, or other renewable energy sources, or indirectly, by purchasing something called Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), or green tags. Renewable energy producers such as wind farms are credited with 1 REC for every 1 MWh energy they produce and green web hosts can purchase RECs to cover their electricity needs, ensuring that the electricity they use to power their servers comes from renewable sources.
RECs are not the same as carbon credits, which are another way some hosts choose to go green. Unlike RECs, carbon credits do not prevent carbon emissions from occurring in the first place, but depending on the type of offset purchased, they do offset the damage through investment in alternative energy projects, carbon sequestration projects, or similar green initiatives.
Green web hosts also frequently use energy-efficient servers and use green business practices in their offices, including energy-efficient computers, lighting, and other electronics, recycling paper and other office waste (or even going completely paper-free), using green cleaning services or products, and allowing some or all employees to telecommute.
Some green web hosts also offer fun perks, such as planting a tree for every new account they sell, or donating money to environmental or social justice causes.
7 Great Green Web Hosts
These are seven great green web hosts, each with a different philosophy of going green.
Since 2007 MyGreenHosting.com has been providing eco-friendly web hosting using the world’s greenest, most sustainable data centers. Their “Green IT” systems run directly on 100% geothermal and hydro-electric power, eliminating the need for carbon offsets. They are ClimateSmartBC certified and have a comprehensive e-waste policy. A percentage of all sales is channeled into programs that promote sustainability and eco-friendly projects in the developing world. Specializing in customer service,MyGreenHosting.com provides 24/7 livechat and email ticket support to all their customers.
MyGreenHosting offers shared hosting, reseller hosting, VPS hosting, and offers a 25% discount for non-profit organizations and charities.
Their “one-size-fits-all” web hosting package includes unlimited websites, disk space, and bandwidth starting at $4.95 per month.
Eco Web Hosting is a UK-based green web host that carefully calculates the carbon emissions it produces from every aspect of its business and plants trees at Ransom Wood Business Park to offset its emissions. They have planted over 100 trees so far, offsetting carbon emissions by more than three times.
In addition to their green credentials, Eco Web Hosting offers a variety of hosting packages suitable for everyone from new webmasters to power users. They also offer a reseller package for domain flippers. The Basic Package begins at £10 per year and includes 1 domain, 100 Mb disk space, and 100 Mb bandwidth. All hosting plans are ad-free, include a control panel and FTP access, fast and free technical support, and many more features.
PowWeb is a popular value web host due to its “one plan, one price” web hosting, which offers unlimited domains, unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, up to 75 MYSQL databases, mand much more for as little as $4.88 per month.
PowWeb runs its offices and data centers on 100% wind energy by purchasing RECs from Community Energy, preventing an estimated 2,660 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year. That’s the equivalent of planting 2,390 acres of trees!
Netfirms is a green web host that is committed to energy conservation, and has pursued a number of strategies to achieve its goal of minimizing its impact on the environment. Netfirms converted its data centers from AC (Alternating Current) to more efficient DC (Direct Current) power, reducing energy consumption by more than 25%. Their corporate office was certified by the BOMA Go Green Environmental Certification program (now BOMA BESt) as a Certified Go Green Building. It is located in an office building with a subway stop in the building, allowing employees to conveniently use mass transit to get to work. Netfirms also recycles and uses eco-friendly cleaning supplies in their office.
Netfirms hosting plans start at $4.45 per month for one domain with 10Gb disk space, 500 Gb bandwidth, 1 MYSQL database, and 24/7 customer support.
5. Acorn Host
Acorn Host is both environmentally and socially conscious. It offers discounted web hosting for non-profit organizations and is 100% powered by green energy through RECs purchased from 3Degrees. Additionally, Acorn Host works with data centers that use energy efficient buildings and low voltage servers, encourages employees to telecommute, and uses electronic invoices and recycled paper to reduce their paper use.
Acorn Host’s starter plan includes unlimited domains, 2 Gb disk space, 50 Gb bandwidth, and unlimited MYSQL databases starting at $7.95 per month. Non-profit plans begin at $3.95 per month.
Pair Networks offer green web hosting and an eco-friendly corporate culture. It purchases carbon offsets from Renewable Choice Energy to offset all office and data center emissions by capturing and destroying methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. All Pair Networks employees are also given Terrapasses for their cars, offsetting their auto emissions with funding for wind energy and methane capture.
Pair Networks also works hard to conserve energy and resources by recycling and using energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs and LCD monitors. They use eco-friendly cleaning supplies in their offices, place air purifying plants strategically throughout the building, and recently completed renovations incorporating sustainable building materials such as recycled denim insulation, cork flooring, and 0 VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint. They also offer certified organic fruit in the company cafeteria, and free memberships in the local Audubon Society to all employees.
Pair Networks hosting plans start from $9.95 per month for unlimited domains, 500Mb disk space, 40Gb bandwidth, and 24/7 telephone support.
Founded by Stephanie Rosendahl, a long-time veteran of the web hosting industry, GreenHostIt is one of the leading green web hosts available today. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, GreenHostIt uses a state-of-the-art data center completed in June 2009 that is 100% powered by renewable energy and uses a super-efficient cooling system that uses about half the energy of conventional data centers.
GreenHostIt’s plans start at $4.95 per month for a single domain hosting plan with 50 GB disk space, 500 GB bandwidth, up to 50 MYSQL databases, and more.