What is Green Hosting
As the world economy becomes increasingly digitalized the amount of energy needed to operate our digital devices and websites – as well as the carbon footprint from non-renewable resources – is expected to significantly increase. The data centers which allow us as consumers to be constantly connected are estimated to consume between 3-5% of the world's power.
Accordingly, many web hosting companies have started to contribute in multiple ways to reduce their contribution to the carbon footprint even without these same resources. In recent years, these green hosting plans have become an important part of the hosting industry.
Green hosting refers to web hosts that prioritize clean energy and energy efficiency in a bid to reduce their data centers’ impact on the environment. With conservation efforts playing an ever-expanding role on the global stage, green hosting solutions are becoming the preferred choice for the eco-friendly consumer.
What makes a Hosting Service “Green”
For web hosting companies, claiming to be green means substantiating these claims by explaining how they contribute to sustainability – either by using renewable power, recycling their hardware, ensuring the proper disposal and/or recycling of their hardware to prevent the leakage of toxic chemicals into the environment, using more energy-efficient hardware and server supplies, buying RECs or carbon offsets, or any combination of the above.
Though green hosting solutions are on the rise, it takes a specific type of host to nail both the green and the hosting aspects of the plans it offers. Before you sign a contract with any one green host, consider the following questions:
- What steps do they take to keep their data centers green?
- How much more expensive is your green hosting plan?
- Is it featureful?
- Are speed and reliability up to scratch?
These are just some of the points you should keep in mind when searching for a green web hosting company, but they should help you find a stellar web host that makes environmental preservation a priority.
Check out our top green hosting website scores below to start with, then read our detailed expert and consumer reviews to uncover the best green hosting service designed to match your needs.
What makes your hosting plan green?
Green hosting solutions empower website owners to take a stand against pollution and energy waste by simply choosing a web hosting plan. There are several different ways that green hosts make their data centers – and your hosting services – more environmentally friendly:
- They use renewable energy sources or purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). Some green hosts try and use as much renewable energy as possible. Other green hosting solutions that don’t have access to renewable energy offset their electricity consumption by buying RECs. Essentially, the host gives money towards renewable energy so that its own conventional energy consumption is equally matched in the production of the same amount of renewable energy.
- They only use energy-star rated servers. Just as energy-star rated refrigerators are designed with energy-efficiency in mind, newer energy-star rated servers are built to consume less electricity than older models.
- They use energy-efficient cooling systems. Air-conditioning has been linked to global warming and energy waste. Though web hosts need to ensure that their data centers are always cold for optimal performance, some green hosts use innovative cooling systems that require less energy and utilize cold outdoor air when possible.
- They promote shared hosting. As shared hosting fits more users on a single server, this type of hosting requires less energy resources than more privatized forms of hosting like dedicated or VPS plans.
Different Types of Green Hosting
While many web hosting companies market themselves as providing green hosting plans, the reality is that this term is difficult for consumers to understand. Does green hosting conform to an industry standard? Can web hosts that recycle, use more efficient data cooling systems, purchase carbon offsets, and buy Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) all be considered green? What if they only recycle, or only purchase carbon offsets? Let’s take a closer look.
Green Web Hosting Using 100% Renewable Resources
Some companies that offer green hosting claim that they use 100% (or more) renewable resources. But given the fact that operating data centers using energy from 100% renewable resources is both costly and almost logistically impossible, web companies cannot guarantee that the power sources from their data centers originate from renewable resources. As a result, the United States' Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allow for businesses purchasing RECs to claim to be using 100% renewable energy.
Green Web Hosting Using Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)
Most small to medium-size web hosting companies do not have the resources to build infrastructure powered by 100% renewable energy. The most common alternative method to building their own infrastructure are the purchase of RECs, or Renewable Energy Certificates. RECs match the amount of non-renewable energy being used, replacing it with the same amount or more of energy from renewable resources. Each REC accounts for one megawatt-hour of electricity.
When choosing a hosting plan that purchases RECs, it is important to ensure that their RECs are certified and verified to ensure the energy originates from a quality renewable resource and that the clean energy you bought was actually produced.
Green Web Hosting Using Carbon Offsets
Carbon offsetting is another green hosting program that enables greenhouse gas producers to buy a greenhouse gas reduction source – or carbon credits – from a renewable resource. Although web hosting companies that purchase carbon offsets can claim to be green, they cannot claim to be using 100% renewable energy.
In contrast with RECs, however, there is no single government standard that regulates the carbon offsetting industry. Nevertheless, the purchase of these carbon credits demonstrates that a web hosting company is dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Green Web Hosting Using Reforestation and Forest Preservation Projects
Another method often employed for carbon offsetting is planting a large number of trees. The concept of tree planting is simple: deforestation accounts for over 20% of global carbon dioxide emission, and since trees absorb carbon dioxide as well as other harmful gases, planting more trees help reduce CO2 emissions.
Forest protection and management programs allow web hosting companies to promote sustainability while at the same time reducing carbon emissions at a lower cost. These programs address forest degradation and deforestation while at the same time contribute to carbon sequestration and water, soil and biodiversity conservation for future generations.
What Are the Different Sources of Renewable Energy for Green Hosting?
Different natural resources are currently used as sources of renewable energy for green hosting solutions, and the ability to generate electricity from these resources is constantly being improved.
Solar power –Solar power has become more attractive as solar power prices have fallen in recent years. As a result, some companies which may have preferred to invest in wind are starting to consider investing in it more seriously.
Geo-thermal – A few geo-thermal reservoirs can be found in the western US states where there are underground sources of steam. The steam from these resources, such as the geysers in northern California and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, powers electricity for geothermal plants in the region.
Wind electricity –In addition to emitting fewer carbon emissions, wind sources of energy have historically been cheaper than solar energy, although solar energy prices have fallen in recent years.
What are the benefits of Green Hosting
Green energy uses natural, renewable energy sources, such as hydraulic, wind, solar, and geothermal power to create electricity. Unlike fossil fuels such as coal and gas, the collection and utilization of these renewable energy sources does not have a negative impact on planet Earth. Accordingly, green hosting affords its users several major benefits:
- You’re doing your part to save the planet. In spite of the uptick in solar, wind, and hydraulic energy solutions, around 85% of the world’s electricity is generated from non-renewable energy sources. The extraction and burning processes that turn fossil fuels like coal and gas into electricity take a heavy toll on the environment, causing devastating water, land, and air pollution. When choosing a green host, you’re committing to using less of these toxic fossil fuels and finding eco friendly ways to power your website.
- You can appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. Eco friendly businesses are gaining global traction, especially with teens and young adults. Even if the product you sell has nothing to do with the environment, you can tap into audiences that care about conservation by prominently displaying your host’s green status or accolades on your website.
Green Hosting Factors To Consider
- To what degree is it environmentally friendly? Though we applaud every host that tries to minimize its carbon footprint, some green solutions are greener than others. If a hosting company markets itself as green, do your research to find out just how it’s eco friendly and whether its environmental efforts are in tune with what you’re looking for.
- How much more will you be paying for your conservation efforts? Though green hosting isn’t necessarily more expensive than non-green hosting, certain types of green hosting – like those that purchase RECs – can cost a little bit more. While the ecological benefits of green hosting are undeniable, make sure you choose a green host with plans that cater to your budget.
- What features does your green hosting package come with? Conservation can be a wonderful side benefit of your web hosting company, but first and foremost you need a web host that will provide extensive features for cultivating your website. Browse the green hosts you’re considering to explore what beginner and developer features they offer and how accessible their support team is should feature-related issues arise.
- Does it measure up in terms of speed and uptime? As the two major liaisons between you and your audience, speed and reliability are the ultimate benchmarks of an excellent web hosting solution. Even if a web host addresses every type of energy conservation available on the market, if it can’t guarantee upwards of 99.9% uptimes and ultra-fast load times it is not right green hosting option.
Does Green Hosting Affect Performance in Any Way?
Since it is either prohibitively expensive or extremely logistically challenging for web hosts to use solar panels, wind turbines, or any other directly installed renewable energy sources on their facilities, the vast majority rely on purchasing RECs to be able to claim to use 100% renewable energy sources.
As a result, web hosts who offer green hosting or use 100% renewable energy sources rely on the same power sources as any other web host and are capable competitors in terms of hosting performance.
How Do I Know I Can Trust A Green Web Hosting Company's Claims?
Consumers must take individual responsibility to research a web host's green hosting certifications and then decide if they are satisfied with the web host's commitment to the environment. They will need to thoroughly investigate the REC or carbon offsetting policy and its terms and policies. In addition, they may want to learn more about the web host's server maintenance or recycling policy for its server parts.
Here are a few recognized certificates which are highly regarded in the web hosting industry:
The Gold Standard
The Gold Standard is one of the highest standards in the world for carbon offsetting, with third-party verification. It is especially important for developing countries without emissions targets. Tree-planting projects are specifically excluded from Gold Standard verification as they are not considered a valuable contribution to renewable resources.
Green Power Partners
Being a Green Power Partner ensures that the web hosting company powers a minimum percentage of their electricity from renewable resources from United States energy plants started within the last 15 years.
Green-e certifications ensure that web hosting companies meet strict environmental standards, including the use of renewable energy resources and carbon offsetting. It was also the first certification program for carbon offsets on the retail market. Green-e certifications verify that carbon offsets and RECs are not double counted, that GHG reductions are verified by a third party, and that consumer disclosures are accurate.
Verified Carbon Standard
One of the most widely used voluntary GHG programs in the world, VCS helps web hosts and other organizations reduce their carbon footprint through purchasing carbon offsets. It focuses on GHG reduction only (rather than other environmental and social benefits) and ensures third-party verification.
Climate Action Reserve
The Climate Action Reserve is a carbon offset registry that establishes high quality standards for carbon offset projects that include overseeing independent third-party verification bodies, issuing carbon credits generated from these projects, and then tracking them over time in a transparent manner. Its mission is to ensure integrity, transparency and financial value in the North American carbon market.
Choose the Best Green Hosting
Green web hosts have two standards to live up to. On the one hand, they have to provide exceptional web hosting plans, tools and services. On the other hand, they must be making a significant effort to either curtail their energy use or to increase their use of renewable energy. To find an affordable green web hosting solution that can compete with the best of them, browse our user reviews to get started with clean energy hosting services.