Sustainable Web Design: Our Pledge for a Greener Internet28 January 2024
Did you know that the internet, and therefore all websites, have an environmental impact? And it is probably much higher than you thought.
If the internet were a country, it would be the 4th largest emitter of carbon in the world. Currently, the internet uses 20% of the world’s electricity and produces 3.5% of global greenhouse emissions. This is more than the entire aviation industry.
So, why is this?
The largest cause is the power needed to run data centres that store and transmit files when people use the internet. Data centres are basically lots of high-powered computers, which are always on and therefore require power, not just for running them but also for cooling them.
Every video that loads and every email attachment you add requires these data centres to run.
Now, it isn’t all bad news for the internet. It is clear that the web has brought environmental benefits by reducing transportation needs and can help reduce other sectors’ emissions, so we won’t be in line to cancel the web just yet. But as a web agency, we want to ensure the websites we build have the smallest impact on these emissions as possible.
Average Website Emissions
According to the website carbon calculator, an average website produces 1.76g of CO2 for every page view. The more complex a site, the more energy required to view it. And in the last 10 years, this has risen dramatically. This is partly due to the internet speeds we now enjoy, meaning that as web designers, we can implement video and graphics that don’t take as long as they did to load when everyone was on a slow internet connection. So, I feel it is now web designers who need to take a stand and try to do better to reduce the impact our sites have.
What Can You Do?
The best thing you can do without changing your website is to move to a green host. Green website hosting runs from renewable energy and is, therefore, better for the environment.
Firstly, consider whether you actually need that video or image. Could an SVG graphic illustrate the point better?
But we get that images can help bring designs to life, so where they are needed, ensure they are optimised. We have seen sites loading images that were 20MB in size. After compression, we reduced this to 0.1MB.
When planning your new website, consider the impact it has. How can you present the information in a way that will reduce the impact on the environment?
We have set ourselves a number of ambitious goals. Firstly, we’ve redesigned our own website to incorporate cleaner code and use more SVG graphics than images on the main pages. This effort has paid off, making our website cleaner than 75% of other websites.
For our clients, our commitment goes beyond just design. We aim to educate them about the importance of sustainable web design. Our process ensures that the website code we create is cleaner and more efficient. In every project, we critically assess whether our approach is the most environmentally friendly option available.
All future websites hosted by us will be on 100% green hosting. Our goal is ambitious but crucial: to transition 60% of existing sites to green hosting by the end of 2024 and reach 95% by the end of 2025.
And finally, we aim to be vocal about the need for a greener web within our wider community. We plan to engage with our community and encourage greener web practices wherever possible. We will do this through social media, in-person events, and public speaking engagements.
Together, we can enjoy the benefits the web brings while also knowing we are doing our best to reduce its environmental impact.
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