Greener WebSphere: Proven Road to Carbon Neutral Web Design

Greener WebSphere Road to Carbon Neutral Web Design

Creating a Green WebSphere

The necessity for a Greener WebSphere:

    1. For most of recent history, we thought that internet usage and online programs, website, video viewing did no harm to the environment. Physical copies of newspapers and music CDs have moved online and gone virtual.
    2. The use of the internet alone causes the emission of approximately 2,330,041 tons of carbon dioxide and consumes 2,339,400 MWh of electricity every day. At a granular level, every single internet search consumes about 0.3 Wh of energy and contributes to the release of 0.2g of carbon emissions in the environment.
    3. From data centers to wireless networks and the devices we carry on hand daily, all links in the digital chain consume energy and release rising carbon emissions.
    4.  The vast communications network of international smartphones, laptops, desktops, and other devices, the ecology of the internet consumes vast amounts of energy, and that translates into leaving a massive carbon footprint. 

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  • According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, the internet is responsible for roughly one billion tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, or around two percent of world emissions.
    1. Every website is hosted on a specific server. When you visit a website, you ping that server and request for the page. Some servers may use databases and code to process display output, but essentially the servers send you files for display output.  These files are occasionally massive, numerous and consume swathes of energy from the computers, routers, DNS servers, power switches running on energy to process the file transfer. This consumes electricity and releases cumulative carbon emissions.

 

  • At an average energy expenditure of 0,5 kWh per GB 1 of data transfer, this means that every kB equals 0,5 kWh / 1.000.000 kB * 2.000.000 websites = 1 kWh if each of these websites received exactly 1 visitor.
    1. A typical website produces 4.61 grams of carbon emissions for every page view. For websites that average 10,000 views monthly, that grows to 553 kilograms of carbon emissions yearly.
    2. Every time someone loads a web page, it emits an average of 6 grams of carbon dioxide. Collectively, this means the web produces 2 percent of all worldwide carbon emissions. This parallels the power consumption of the aviation industry.
    3. In 2005, Jonathan Koomey, from Informationweek.com, reported that the total electric bill to operate those servers and related infrastructure equipment was $2.7 billion in the United States and $7.2 billion worldwide.
    4. A webserver typically produces more than 630 kg of carbon emissions and consumes 1,000 KWh of energy annually. A green host on the other hand theoretically produces zero carbon emissions.

 

Possible ways to reduce the carbon footprint of websites:

Reduce data transfer

As data transfers drive up energy consumption and carbon emissions, it is necessary to strive to design websites that optimally use data. There are two routine methods to achieve this.

One way is to minimize the weight (in KB) of web pages. To do this we need to:

  • Write code with precision, brevity
  • Using the compressed file format for graphics (such as SVG or WebP). 
  • Use vector graphics and CSS effects in place of clunky JPEGs and GIFs.
  • Use fewer, smaller images to speed up loading time
  • Outsource large media files to external hosts
  • Compress files, images, and videos to shrink file weight.
  • Engage portable solutions such as AMP to efficiently streamline, simplify the existing version of a web site.
  • Slash down tracking and advertising script.
  • Implement a caching solution, as caching reduces the proportion of server bandwidth taken to generate site view
  • Sparingly utilize custom fonts and opt for externally sourced fonts.
  • Use light, basic fonts, do not choose complex, flowery fonts, or excessively vary font types.
  • Avoid auto-play on videos, requesting the user to choose to play videos if interested only on demand.
  • Pare down code, simplify and trim excess baggage to lift the weight off the website.

 

Another method of reducing data transfer volume is to trim the number of times that your pages are loaded. 

Though we regularly assume that web traffic is beneficial, there are scenarios where people visit pages that are redundant to their needs/ goals. This is highlighted in bounce rate statistics, which reflect the number of visitors that instantly realize that they have loaded an unwanted site.

When a web visitor clicks on your site and leaves without visiting other pages on the domain, that is a bounce. Your bounce rate is the proportion of all site visitors who ghost the site, without lingering or perusal.

Optimizing SEO can reduce bounce rates, while simplifying user routes, enabling users to locate desired information faster, meaning that a website can deliver effectively with fewer page views.

Green hosting

Green web hosting is an eco-friendlier way to host websites. The mission of most green web hosting companies is to provide professional service while minimizing carbon footprint.

A common approach is to tap renewable power technologies like solar and wind. Those technologies are essential examples of green energy generation.

Apart from generating clean energy, green web hosts transfer power generation to a legitimate green energy supplier. Companies can purchase Green tags from green energy suppliers that are licensed, power suppliers. 

Green hosting includes Carbon offsetting, powering a data center sourced with renewable energy.

Practices of Green Hosts:

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  • Purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) – Providers buy ‘credits’ for green energy to offset their carbon footprint by replacing traditional energy with ‘green’ energy (wind, solar, etc.)
  • Using eco-friendly software and hardware, having strategic recycling habits, reducing waste, working at home instead of traveling back and forth to work offices on fossil-fueled transport.
  • Plant trees, support botany.

 

Reduce Network Requests

Network requests are something quantifiable, so they make for foundational building. Sometimes when building websites, there are several HTTP requests going on that do not seem to be required. For example, WordPress bundles some CSS and JavaScript that detects the usage of emojis and ensures that they do not manifest as illegal characters. There is nothing wrong with this, but if you are not planning to use emojis, or you are satisfied that the various system defaults will have you insured, you can prevent these from loading.

 

Carefully examine all website functions

To reduce unnecessary loading time, one must examine all aspects of web design. Trim all frills and unnecessary frivolities away. Does the sidebar lend any real enhancement, or have we simply placed one there because common sense indicates websites have sidebars? Construct pages that are pared down to the basics, with additional content only being loaded at the user’s clear command. Reduce excess use of images/videos to draw in youthful, immature site visitors. It has been demonstrated, for instance, that streaming moving images is the prime cause of carbon emissions in the digital world and that the billions of search queries made around the world snowball into massive tonnes of Carbon Dioxide emissions.

https://theshiftproject.org/en/article/unsustainable-use-online-video/

 

Write Code meticulously, precisely

When it comes to rigorous performance enhancement, you should remember that essentially all characters of code matter cumulatively. Every character represents a byte, and even after they have been compressed by gzip, they are still taking up weight. CSS is a domain where we often squander resources. There are a growing number of relatively complex programs that can help you to remove unused CSS. Example:  https://purgecss.com/ (Purge CSS is a tool to remove unused CSS)

 

Streamline Analytics

It is a norm for all to analyze what their website’s visitors do via tools like Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, Piwik, etc. Unless you truly need it, and you intend to analyze and perform editing/ enhancements based on the data, do ignore analytics, and do not pay too much attention to random site hits statistics. In addition to the unnecessary weight added, usage of something like Google Analytics may serve data collection purposes for Google Inc rather than benefit your organization.

 

Simplify coding

For optimum results, you should simplify, minimize HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and consolidate where necessary. Always compress all images to ensure they are as scaled-down as possible, use the right formats in the right settings, and use cumulative rendering.

 

Optimize Server performance

Enable gzip compression always. Minimize the load of surfing your website on the server you patronize. Use Nginx, and FastCGI cache, it is highly efficient. There are less technical options if you do not desire as much control over your server. A usual choice in the WordPress space is WP Super Cache.

 

Optimize web traffic with SEO 

SEO and carbon emissions could work hand in hand as ensuring a website is SEO-friendly, could boost an individual webmaster’s efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of a site. SEO optimization reduces the number of excess visits to a site. Also, it reduces the amount of data that is unnecessarily downloaded with each site visit. 

Tips to optimize SEO:

  • Ensure relevant, authentic content. 
  • Avoid fancy clickbait.
  • Ensure the digestibility of content.
  • Ensure ease of perusing
  • Facilitate quick comprehension
  • Speed up web site loading time
  • Make site navigation easy

 

Pare Down to Essentials

Hence, it might be that drawing in the targeted traffic, optimizing content, minimizing data-consuming on-site assets (such as carousels, GIFs, and videos), as well as ensuring the code is clean and free of all but the requisite plugins and tracking script, reduces the overall carbon footprint of websites.

 

Possible solutions to Excess Carbon Footprint from Websites

To convert the Internet from a huge origin of greenhouse gas emissions to a Carbon Neutral endeavor, we need to galvanize and collectivize efforts. By adopting the essential methods of measuring our carbon emissions, minimizing the data transfer volume, and switching to a green hosting provider – we may finally trim our carbon footprint while maintaining service standards.

The Web Neutral Project partners with clients to reduce carbon emissions for websites. The company establishes this by rewiring, coding websites to be energy efficient, moving website hosting to 100% solar servers, and awarding certification badges to carbon-neutral websites. Currently, Web Neutral Project has partnered with 250 clients to reduce 306 metric tons of carbon emissions yearly.

Internet surfing is powered by computer networking, running on electricity, which comes from the combustion of toxic fossil fuels. This releases harmful carbon emissions into the skies. To solve this, we need to utilize clean, renewable energy in place of fossil fuels.

With renewable energy credits, you can offset the carbon emissions corresponding with the energy consumed by visitors’ computers while visiting your site. Based on web traffic, you can assess carbon emission volumes generated by visitors to your site. Subsequently, offset that amount with credits of an equivalent volume of electricity from renewable energy sources.

When you procure a website offset, you are bestowed a carbon offset web badge to victoriously display on your site. This informs visitors of your Green friendly efforts to lower carbon footprints generated by their site visits. Purchase a carbon offset badge to demonstrate solidarity with Green Causes.

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Benefits of practicing Green Web management:

When we conserve the environment, we save ourselves guilt overexploiting the Earth and depleting our planet’s resources. We also discover our larger purpose in caring for the Earth as our habitat and home, galvanizing energies towards a larger purpose, minimizing a sense of purposelessness and malcontent in life. 

This is the claim of Dr. Jared Scherz, a Mt. Laurel, New Jersey-based Gestalt therapist, who describes discovering a larger purpose as the cure to anxiety and depression. “It instills a sense of worth, and it gives people something to be passionate about, something to talk about with others.” By participating, contributing, being active in environmental conservation, you subscribe to a larger global community of people who are as concerned about conservation. 

This leads to a sense of belonging, less isolation, less anxiety, and feelings of displacement. While Green Causes are not universally embraced, it is a path to discover a purpose, solidarity, community, harmony, and connection with other members of the Green movement. 

 

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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