Green Hosting is web hosting that is provided in a manner that makes it more environmentally friendly. This is usually done by ‘balancing’ the carbon output generated by web hosting servers in various ways.
Web hosting is a thriving industry. From a market value of $56.7 billion in 2019 it is expected to grow at an annual average rate of 15.5%. The hosting industry is expected to reach $216 billion by 2025. While this may sound great in today’s highly digitized world, for the planet – not so much.
The Problem With Web Hosting
- Over 1.7 billion websites have been created – with more added each second
- The Internet needs 416.2 TWh of electricity to run each year
- Websites generate on average 4.61g of carbon dioxide per page view
There is actually no real unique problem posed by web hosting itself.
At least not so much so as any other form of modern technology. To host websites, companies make use of massive server farms as practical, cost-effective ways to serve their customers.
Problems mainly arise from the electricity needed to power those massive server farms. Around 1% to 1.5% of all electricity produced each year goes towards powering data centers. More importantly, the number of data centers is growing each year.
Even as we try to save the earth by growing increasingly paperless, web hosting may be helping us kill it.
How Green Hosting Intervenes
Green hosting aims to mitigate the effects of electricity consumption. In many cases, fossil fuels are burned to generate electricity. Although other forms of generation exist, this is the most common method by far.
Burning fossil fuels generates carbon dioxide, which not only contributes toward global warming, but is also harmful to our health. Green hosting tries to balance their energy consumption in a number of ways.
How Green Hosting Works
The two primary methods hosting companies “go green” are: 1. by using green energy sources, or 2. by offsetting the carbon dioxide which is produced.
1. Using Green Energy Sources
The most coveted means of green hosting is to power a data center through a renewable energy source. This means that the electricity is generated in a natural way. Some examples of renewable energy sources include hydroelectric dams, solar farms, and geothermal sources.
Web hosts that opt for this normally do it by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). The certificates represent the amount of renewable energy the host has invested in to run its servers.
Sources of RECs: Grexel, Nupath Energy, Direct Energy
2. Offsetting Carbon Production
When green energy sources aren’t available, another option is for web hosting companies to purchase carbon offsets. These come in the form of Carbon Offset or Carbon Compensation Certificates (VERs).
These certificates are purchased from companies that run specialized programs that help reverse carbon dioxide release. For example, projects might involve reforestation or forest conservation.
Aside from these methods, web hosting companies also utilize smaller ways to help the environment. Although this differs from company to company, they are slowly but surely moving in the right direction.
Sources of VERs: Carbonfund, Endesa
5 Great Green Hosting Providers
GreenGeeks is one of the earliest specialized green web hosting companies around. Not only are they completely powered by renewable energy, but they’ve gone above and beyond. Today, the company pays for triple the amount of renewable energy it needs.
Their efforts have resulted in them being recognized as a Green Power Partner since 2009. The company offers shared hosting, managed VPS plans, and reseller hosting.
Despite all that renewable energy they’re buying, prices remain pretty affordable for new customers. Shared hosting here starts from as little as $2.95/mo. VPS plans cost significantly more from $39.95/mo but their plans are quite high-powered.
GreenGeeks Ratings & Performance
GreenGeeks Tested Performance
Learn more about GreenGeek in our review.
SiteGround is perhaps the green host with the most outstanding track record for performance. This web hosting company has a long and distinguished pedigree and not only offers standard hosting packages but Cloud hosting as well.
The multiple data centers they use are green, but beyond that, so are their Cloud plans. SiteGround is a Google partner for Cloud, meaning those servers are completely powered with renewable energy.
Their hosting plans come at a relative premium cost even at the shared hosting level. However, performance here is also remarkable and ongoing data collection consistently sees them as being one of our most highly rated web hosts.
SiteGround Ratings & Performance
SiteGround Tested Performance
Read our comprehensive SiteGround review for details.
3. Inmotion Hosting
Inmotion Hosting is another big name in the business which has started helping its customers go green. They have even opened their own Green Data Center in Los Angeles to support their efforts.
Aside from traditional methods, Inmotion also works along various other channels. For example, they have increased recycling, tried to reduce paper waste, and even partnered with Trees for the Future.
These green initiatives power their entire product range, from shared hosting to dedicated servers. They are also a top rated web host which offers excellent performance in terms of both speed and reliability.
InMotion Hosting Ratings & Performance
InMotion Hosting Tested Performance
Discover more features in our InMotion Hosting review.
4. A2 Hosting
Although they haven’t made it one of their key selling points, A2 Hosting is probably one of the greenest web shots you’ll come across. The backbone of their efforts comes from a partnership with Carbonfund through which they get their carbon offset.
However, there are lots of little other ways that A2 Hosting tries to go green. For example, they have a large number of remote workers which helps them reduce carbon emissions from telecommuting.
Aside from that, they run green-friendly promos from time to time. This is really interesting since they will plan a number of trees each time they sell a hosting package during the period.
A2 Hosting has an entire range of web hosting products to choose from. Starting from the low end at shared hosting, you can get almost anything right up to a dedicated server, plus domain names and a few other associated services.
A2 Hosting Ratings & Performance
A2 Hosting Tested Performance
Discover additional features from our detailed review of A2 Hosting.
HostPapa is another company that’s gone above and beyond in green hosting. Not only do they buy renewable energy certificates for their hosting servers, but everything else they run as well. This includes their office PCs, notebooks, and more.
They’ve spread out the love and buy their energy certificates from a number of sources around North America. This includes Tillamook Animal Waste to Energy, Foote Creek Wind Facility, Washington State School for the Blind, and more.
HostPapa offers everything from shared hosting to Reseller plans. Uniquely enough, they have a special category called managed shared plans. These are completely hand-off tech-wise so you can focus more closely on your real business.
HostPapa Ratings & Performance
HostPapa Tested Performance
You can learn more from our HostPapa review here.
Choosing to go green when it comes to web hosting doesn’t necessarily entail lower performance or higher fees. Most green web hosting companies have made green hosting an integral part of their plans, so it doesn’t cost significantly more.
The benefits of going green far outweighs the downside. For example, it can contribute towards a better customer perception of your business, mitigate risk from potential future environmental legislation, and even act as a morale booster for your employees.
Although not all web hosting companies have not gone green, many are heading in the right direction. As you can see from this article, there are already quite a number of excellent hosts in this segment.
If the host you are interested in doesn’t offer green hosting, do the world a favor and ask them about it. It might help encourage them to make the transition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fossil fuels are a finite resource and we are rapidly burning it up. This also contributes towards global warming. Without initiatives like green hosting, we are rapidly moving towards an uninhabitable world.
REC is a renewable energy certificate. These are bought by companies who wish to offset their carbon footprint by helping create energy in a sustainable manner. Renewable energy sources include hydroelectric dams, solar or wind farms, and more.
GreenGeeks is by far the most recognized name in green hosting. Their 300% renewable energy return is significant, plus their web hosting plans are generally strong in terms of performance.
Modern equipment often follows a star rating to show how efficiently they use hardware. The more energy efficient a piece of hardware is, the less waste there is in terms of energy. Features that contribute to energy efficiency vary, from auto off to energy efficient modes of operation.
There are many ways green hosting companies cool their servers. For example, there have been initiatives to build data centers in colder climates. More typical means include heat-exchange loops, liquid cooling, and others.