Green Hosting Explained

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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

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.

Enter Green Hosting

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: GrexelNupath 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

GreenGeeks – The Biggest Name in Green Hosting

GreenGeeks Hosting

At this point of writing, GreenGeeks is by far the most recognized name in green hosting. 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.

With their eco-friendly vision GreenGeeks has positioned themselves in a unique spot to offer hosting that some companies have bylaws mandating them to take advantage of – green hosting. Combined with above-average performance and a good spread of supporting technologies, they are an attractive option for many.

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GreenGeeks Pros & Cons

GreenGeeks Pros

  • Returns 3x power consumed with renewable energy credits
  • Affordable pricing
  • Free daily backup for all shared hosting plans
  • All plans support Perl, Python and Git
  • Free website migration assistance
  • Root access, control panel and cPanel/WHM included in reseller hosting plans

GreenGeeks Cons

  • Price increase during the renewal
  • Slightly lacklustre customer service
  • Non refundable setup fees

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GreenGeeks Who? Quick Intro

Trey Gardner, a veteran of the web hosting industry since 1999, founded GreenGeeks in 2008 in Santa Monica, California, with a pioneering vision for environmentally sustainable web hosting. Alongside Trey Gardner, COO Kaumil Patel, with his extensive experience in hosting operations, plays a critical role in the company’s success.

GreenGeeks distinguishes itself by its commitment to the environment, utilizing wind power credits to offset triple the energy consumed by its clients’ websites. This innovative approach not only defines GreenGeeks as a leader in eco-friendly hosting but also reflects its dedication to making a positive environmental impact.

Final Thoughts

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.

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