According to the Website Carbon Calculator, which was developed by Wholegrain Digital, “the average website produces 461 grams of CO2 per page view”. That means that “a website with 10,000 monthly page views will be producing a staggering 553kg of CO2 per year”. That’s more than a return economy flight from London Heathrow to Barcelona (which comes in at 360kg according to the Carbon Footprint flight calculator). While we are starting to understand the impact of flying and its associated emissions, very few businesses have considered the very real implications of running a website to promote their products or services.
When we set up the REAL website it was a given that the site needed to be hosted on local servers which ran on 100% renewable energy. That was a non-negotiable for us. We chose to go with with the UK and US-based hosting provider called Kualo because they provided an affordable hosting solution and delivered on our business needs. However, it wasn’t until we received a message on Twitter from Wholegrain Digital about their tool to measure the CO2 emissions of the website that I really got down and dirty with understanding all the factors that could add to the climate burden.
Being a new business and brand new website, with a small team working on the backend, there is certainly room for improvement and growth. Thankfully, the rabbit hole I went down while researching ways in which I could improve REAL’s emissions got me inspired rather than disheartened!
Not every calculator is created equal.
If REAL is about providing leadership around sustainability – while also offering up real ideas, strategies and solutions to address the issues we are facing both locally and globally, I felt that I needed to investigate what calculators were out there to measure our CO2 emissions to the same set of standards. Many of the calculators I came across threw out an alarming figure and provided a few generic suggestions, all of which we had already implemented.
I realised that in order to assess the majority of sites that might be measuring their impact, the methodology of these calculators assumed all sites are running on main/grey grid electricity. As REAL is run on renewable energy, the figure was not correct. After some further research, however, and exploring the excellent resource The Green Web Foundation, I came across the Ecograder.
What I really liked about this particular calculator, is not only did it give you a score out 100 (our current rating is 73/100), but it also provides you with an invaluable breakdown of where your website could be improved as well as where you are doing well. Let’s face it, a little acknowledgement about what we are doing well is an excellent motivator to do even better. Not only that, but they go on to suggest practical advice on how to address the issues they have highlighted with your website.
Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash.
5 actions to take now!
1. Switch to green hosting.
2.Develop a strategy to improve the performance optimization of your website.
Simply put, the longer your page takes to load, the more energy is required to process the request. If your customer is viewing your website on a grey energy source, this adds to your impact – so keep this light, intuitive and easy to load. Ensuring your website is optimised for mobile devices is also key – not only because more customers are viewing websites on the go these days, but they also require less energy to run than a desktop.
Many companies are looking at how to improve site navigation and are looking for UX groups that represent their customer profile to optimise their websites and reduce the number of clicks to providing customers with the relevant information.
3. Work with your team to set some goals both short and long-term and ensure these match your business goals.
Most businesses will aim to increase the number of views of their site to increase over time so this will mean your website must become more energy efficient over the same period.
4. Measure your website’s current emissions.
By knowing your numbers and understanding your impact, you will be able to include these CO2 emissions and monitor them against your carbon reduction targets. Website emission calculator, Ecograder makes it very easy to do.
5. Monitor, evaluate and report.
Check your score every couple of months to ensure you’re on track to reaching your carbon reduction goals. Be sure to communicate your progress – or any challenges – to your stakeholders and share best practice in your sector.
Don’t forget our websites are only a part of a much bigger picture, using this Carbon Independent’s carbon calculator can help you understand more about the impact of your lifestyle.