Have you ever heard of green web hosting? If not, don’t despair; here are ten frequently asked questions about green hosting that should turn you into a savvy expert on the subject in no time, or to be more precise, in the time it takes for you to finish reading.
Just what is green hosting anyways?
Defined simply, green web hosting is an energy efficient service, where the aim is to provide reliable web hosting but not at the expense of the environment. Rather than using “dirty power”, green web hosts use renewable energy sources such as solar, hydroelectric or wind power.
Why is this even an issue?
These days, a lot of businesses are trying out new ways of being ecologically aware, and diminish their carbon footprint. We need to be good stewards with our natural resources and protect the environment, and yet still be able to do business.
How does it work?
There are two distinct ways that a web hosting company gets green credentials. Web hosting companies are considered green if they adopt a range of eco-friendly measures such as:
- Reduced use of paper
- Implementation of recycling programs
- Backup generators that use propane rather than fossil fuels
- Car-pooling initiatives
- Employing power-efficient servers
- Reducing overall air-conditioner use
- Enforcing power-saving measures such as light usage, lowered thermostats, etc.
- Sponsor tree-planting programs
The other way is by Energy Credit Certificates.
What are Energy Credit Certificates?
Also known as Renewable Energy Certificates or RECs, they are purchased through certain companies registered to deal with them. A REC certifies that a company has invested adequate money into acquiring renewable energy, measured in kilowatt hours. As a rule, RECs come in three energy forms: wind, solar, and biomass. So for instance, a company may use 4 million megawatts of energy from the grid, then purchase solar energy credits to “put back” what they have taken out. Often times, green companies purchase more RECs than they use.
Isn’t the Internet sort of energy-efficient already?
Actually, no, not really. In fact, increased Internet usage means increased demand in power. Increased demands in power mean more resources are being expended to generate that power. Think of all of the desktop computers out there, the charging units for tablets and smart phones, the energy-eating servers needed to assume the burden of increased hosting demands. Sadly, the Internet is far from energy-efficient.
Are green web hosts reliable?
There is no known difference in reliability between green and “dirty-powered” sites.
Do I need any special equipment, software or plug-ins?
No. The thing that separates green hosting from conventional hosts is how power is generated. Electricity is electricity; and there’s nothing special you need to install or run in order to use a green web host.
What about my current operating system?
Your operating system isn’t a factor. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you have a Mac or Windows-based PC, either. It’s all the same, as far as green hosting is concerned.
How do I find a green web host?
Well, there’s always simply putting that question in your search engine, but if you want a handful of names, consider any of the following: Acorn Host, Dreamhost, ecoSky, Go Green Hosting, Planetmind, AISO (Affordable Internet Solutions Online), and Iron Mountain. Also, check out Treehugger.com for more resources on the whole question of green web hosting.
What’s in it for me?
Are you kidding? Let’s start with the whole “It’s good for the environment” thing. The Internet keeps growing, and that monster wants food, and that means power. According to a piece in the New York Times, the web hosting industry will be more polluting than the airline industry by 2020. Furthermore, since there’s no discernible loss of performance by using green web hosting, it’s an easy step to take in reducing your own carbon footprint.
Finally, by giving your business to companies that run off of green energy sources, you help those energy sources research and perfect even more efficient means of producing energy, which in the long run can help us shake our dependence on petroleum. Who knows? That could even mean gas prices dropping someday!