The internet – powered by over 8 million vast data centres located all over the world – is a huge draw on resources.
One of the most polluting industries, it’s actually on a par with aviation for carbon emissions. And supplying these data centres with power consumes more electricity than the whole of the UK in a year.
A single webpage load consumes 3 grams of CO2, which if you consider all the huge number of websites out there, adds up to a mammoth amount. And with data consumption set to triple over this decade, the problem is spiralling out of control.
Energy-saving web design agency Wholegrain Digital is committed to changing just that.
Their work revolves around building beautiful low carbon websites that reduce carbon emissions (and look awesome) while improving user experience in the process.
Founder and CEO Tom Greenwood talks through the key points of greening the internet…
“The main features of a low carbon website are twofold: energy efficiency and renewable energy. We want to use less energy for every person who visits the website, and we want to ensure that as much of that energy as possible comes from renewable sources.”
Efficiency By Design
“Think of building a site like this as ‘efficiency by design’, it can lead to far larger efficiency gains with a lot less effort than trying to optimise a website later,” highlights Tom.
So what can you do to make your website more efficient?
He goes on to explain “Some key strategies are to ensure that web pages are cached on the server; to optimise the size of image, video and font files; to write code efficiently and reduce the use of bloated code libraries; and perhaps most importantly, to plan and design the website with efficiency in mind from the very beginning.”
You’re left with a clear and concise site. No ads, gifs or videos that push up the page weight and demand more energy.
Wholegrain Digital – Client Success
Naturally, the reduction in emissions will change for each client and depends on how efficient their old website was.
Certified B Corp and supplier of eco-friendly stationery, Red Inc approached Wholegrain Digital in search of a new environmentally-friendly website.
Wholegrain, by implementing their ‘efficiency by design’ process, was successful in reducing website emissions for Red Inc by a staggering 89% and brought down their page load time from 3 seconds to under a second.
A win for both the user and the environment.
They’re not the only company to benefit from Wholegrain’s polished methods.
“Our latest data shows that the websites that we produce for our clients on average produce 72% less emissions than the industry average,” reveals Tom.
What’s Next For Wholegrain?
We already know they’re ahead of the game. As the world turns more sustainable, Wholegrain has hit a niche market at just the right time. Yet, Tom’s strategy was initially born from the desire to operate a purpose-based business. And part of this includes helping others understand the environmental impact of their website.
“We invested a lot of time studying research on the energy consumption of the internet and developed a method for calculating the carbon emissions of an individual web page, both for a single visitor and per year. We then built a testing engine to run these tests automatically and made it available to the public at www.websitecarbon.com. We have been overwhelmed by its success in raising awareness of internet emissions, and we have now completed close to a million tests.”
Moreover, they’ve noticed a trend in a reduction of CO2 from returning websites, indicating that users are going beyond curiosity and are making steps to reduce their website emissions.
By helping others manage what they physically can’t see, change can be made.
Wholegrain Digital has opened our eyes to the negative side-effect of the internet, and provides the tools to mitigate our impact.
Which might be why they’re up for a Digital Leaders award in the Tech for Good category.
“We are excited to continue pushing boundaries and leading our industry forward in both web sustainability and performance. We’ll continue to share our knowledge and tools as widely as possible.
We are currently working on plans for how we can take responsibility for our historical carbon emissions, so watch this space!”