Every time we click on the internet, an infrastructure is launched that consumes impressive amounts of energy. We are talking about data centers, transmission networks, refrigeration systems and an entire network that, to be more precise, already in 2015 demanded more electricity per year than the entire United Kingdom. If the internet were a country, it would be the sixth most polluting country in the world due to the CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions it causes.
The discussion is immense and the actors, a lot. But in the midst of all this, a group of environmental organizations is betting on the awareness of web administrators. The objective is to propose tools and practical solutions that allow them to reduce the CO2 emissions caused by the operation of their portals.
Green Web Foundation, for example, has a directory to search for web hosts with green credentials. There are also initiatives such as the Website Carbon Calculator and Ecograder, which have their own calculators to estimate the CO2 emissions produced by a website. You can even see an estimate of emissions per visit. In their methodologies they take into account variables such as data transfer, the server’s power source or site traffic.
A list of basic tips to reduce CO2 emissions from your website
One of the keys to reducing CO2 emissions from a website is to reduce the amount of data that is stored and sent over the network. It is an important challenge, taking into account that the average size of a page increased from 468 Kilobytes in 2010 to more than 2000 Kilobytes currently, ensures httparchive.org. The internet connection is getting faster and developers think less and less about the size of their files.
The BBC interviewed Tom Greenwood, director of the agency Digital Wholegrainand Tim Frick, founder of mightybytes, Both specialize in low carbon websites. Below, we summarize the list of basic tips proposed by the two experts to reduce CO2 emissions from your website:
- Avoid videos that play automatically. Set them to play only when the viewer chooses to view or scroll to it.
- Point to simple interactionss. For example: prefer effects of zoom in images, instead of adding more photos that show the details of a product.
- Can optimize images to make the file sizes smaller without altering the quality. The WebP format, for example, is more efficient than the old JPEG.
- Streamline the user journey for the site. If a user is “lost” on your website, he will spend time interacting with it and, therefore, more energy will be consumed.
A goal against climate change
Eco-Friendly Web Alliance, an organization that provides accreditation for green websites, proposes a 1g CO2 target per visit. The organization has set out to build a global movement focused on reducing CO2 emissions from the internet. Its premise is to achieve a cleaner internet with 1 million green websites by 2030.
The world recorded a record number of carbon dioxide emissions in 2022. A total of 36.8 billion tons of polluting gases were emitted. According to the Green Alliance, the Internet drives 3.7% of the total of these emissions.