Frank Gresslin https://frankgresslin.net WordPress websites powered with 100% renewable energy Tue, 26 May 2020 17:34:44 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 How to choose a green hosting provider? https://frankgresslin.net/how-to-choose-a-green-hosting-provider/ Sun, 05 Apr 2020 22:31:51 +0000 https://frankgresslin.net/?p=676 How to choose a green hosting provider?

Before I go into the how, let me go quickly again over the why: so far, when we decide on where to host our websites, the decision is usually motivated by our budget or by specific technical specs a hosting package has to meet. How the data centre is powered where our website is located has no impact on how well our site communicates our message. But since climate science broke into mainstream consciousness, we know that we should be acting with the same urgency as we are during the current corona pandemic.

Continue reading How to choose a green hosting provider? at Frank Gresslin.

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How to choose a green hosting provider?

Before I go into the how, let me go quickly again over the why: so far, when we decide on where to host our websites, the decision is usually motivated by our budget or by specific technical specs a hosting package has to meet. How the data centre is powered where our website is located has no impact on how well our site communicates our message. But since climate science broke into mainstream consciousness, we know that we should be acting with the same urgency as we are during the current corona pandemic.

The internet is already emitting as much carbon dioxide as aviation and consuming much more energy than the UK while data centres are multiplying at an astonishing rate. If we stay on the current trajectory, the internet is predicted to emit as much as 14% of greenhouse gasses by 2040, since Governments still don’t seem to be responding to the climate crisis in an adequate way. That’s why it is up to us to divest from fossil fuels where we can as quickly as we can.

[include_blockquote style=1] The internet is already emitting as much carbon dioxide as aviation.[/include_blockquote]

And since most hosting providers are offering free website migration, moving to a hosting company that is already fully powered by clean energy sources should be a no-brainer. Why support the fossil fuel industry through current website hosters, if moving your site could just require a quick phonecall? The only thing that is stopping us is that there is not that much information out there on how to find, or how to choose a green provider.

Buying RECs means still burning fossil fuels

Indeed, if you start looking into sustainable data centres, things get a bit complicated. Even the information that is easy enough to find is quite confusing. When I started my research on Ecosia, I found a handful of “green hosting” reviews. However, half of the rated companies did not provide any information about sustainable hosting on their websites at all. One promising looking web host who caught my eye early on, mentioned that their energy provider is E.ON, a main contractor of the Nord Stream Pipeline who discloses that renewable energy makes up only 32.8% of their electricity sources. The rest of the companie’s UK average energy mix in 2018/1029 came from Coal (5.2%), Gas (41.4%), Nuclear (18.7), and 1.9% from other sources.

The remaining reviewed and rated “green” website hosters mention on their websites that they purchase REGs, (Renewable Energy Certificates, or REGOs as they are called here in the UK). The Energy Saving Trust, a UK organisation that is devoted to promoting the sustainable use of energy, describes this as “greenwashing” on their website.

Google sends mixed messages

Even the most informative and well written review of green hosting companies by a ‘sustainable’ London based web design agency lists a number of providers who have their data centres with Google. And while Goggle declared already in 2017 to be 100% renewable, Greenpeace’s click clean report from the same year, who rated the search engine provider as one of the greenest internet companies, reveals that their energy mix consisted only 56% of sustainable energy. 14% came form natural gas, 15% did indeed still come from coal and another 10% came form nuclear power plants.

Also news, that the internet giant financially supported climate denying interest groups and quietly set up a fossil fuel division which aims to support the fossil fuel industry with AI, makes Google, just like Microsoft and Amazon, a difficult choice.

Are providers disclosing their energy sources?

Eventually I did find a few hosting companies who provide more information on their websites abut what energy sources their servers are using. London based Eco Hosting and Krystal say that their data centres are fully powered by Ecotricity, who’s energy mix consists of Offshore Wind 84.9%, Onshore Wind 14,94, Solar 0.12%, Hydro 0.03%. Ecotricity is also rated elsewhere as one of only few genuine fully renewable electricity providers.

German based Raidboxes describes in length their green credentials and provides a TÜV certificate which states that they are, like Swiss based Data Center Light, running fully on hydro power generated on the Rhine.

Also running on hydropower is Web Hosting Canada, the only North American hosting company I found, who specifies their energy source and rejects offsetting on their “green web hosting” page. While Green Hosting says they only purchase wind energy, Positive Park additionally claims to be carbon negative already.

A quick comparison of entry plans

  Eco Hosting Krystal Web Hosting Canada Raidboxes
Energy Wind Wind Hydro Hydro
Websites 1 2 1 1
Data Transfer unlimited unlimited unlimited 1GB
Web Space unlimited 5GB unlimited 5GB
Databases unlimited 20 unlimited
Subdomains unlimited unlimited
Emails unlimited unlimited unlimited optional
Free SSL
cPanel
Backup
WP Hosting
Free Migration
Support 24/7 24/7 24/7 8am- 10pm
Monthly costs £3.50* from £3.99 C$3.92* 1st year from €15

* smaller plans available

Real green hosting has everything we need

With this list of companies, who provide some good information about where their electricity is coming from and what else they are doing for the climate, now we can have a closer look at their hosting packages. And while Eco Hosting offers packages that range from a very affordable £1.50 per month to optimised WordPress hosting and Web Hosting Canada, Raidboxes and Krystal offering managed WordPress hosting, high-performance and dedicated servers , their free migration services should provide enough incentive to get us to divest from our current fossil fuel powered providers and every reason to support such companies, who are already making a real difference.

The shortlist

  1. Eco Hosting (UK)
  2. Krystal (UK)
  3. Web Hosting Canada (Canada)
  4. Raidboxes (Germany)
  5. Green Hosting (UK)
  6. Data Center Light (Switzerland)
  7. Positive Internet (UK)
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Is your website’s hosting company green? https://frankgresslin.net/is-your-website-hosting-company-green/ Sat, 21 Mar 2020 08:15:52 +0000 https://frankgresslin.net/?p=328 Is your website’s hosting company green?

The Green Web Foundation developed a great tool, that allows you to check if your website is hosted with a web hosting compay with green credentials. A good fisrt step to find out if you should move your website to a green(er) host.

Continue reading Is your website’s hosting company green? at Frank Gresslin.

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Is your website’s hosting company green?

The Green Web Foundation developed a great tool, that allows you to check if your website is hosted with a web hosting compay with green credentials. A good fisrt step to find out if you should move your website to a green(er) host.

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The internet and climate change https://frankgresslin.net/the-internet-and-climate-change/ Fri, 20 Mar 2020 09:26:20 +0000 https://frankgresslin.net/?p=339 The internet and climate change

We have known about climate change for a very long time. The science behind the greenhouse effect was first discovered in 1824 by French physicist Joseph Fourier and the effect of burning fossil fuels was debated as early as 1966 in leading industry publications like the Mining Congress Journal. In 1982, when atmospheric carbon levels where still at relatively save 340ppm, 350ppm was described as the safe upper limit by former NASA climate scientist James Hansen in 1988, fossil fuel companies like Exxon Mobile made fairly accurate predictions about global warming, predicting that carbon dioxide levels would rise to 418ppm in 2019.

Continue reading The internet and climate change at Frank Gresslin.

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The internet and climate change

We have known about climate change for a very long time. The science behind the greenhouse effect was first discovered in 1824 by French physicist Joseph Fourier and the effect of burning fossil fuels was debated as early as 1966 in leading industry publications like the Mining Congress Journal. In 1982, when atmospheric carbon levels where still at relatively save 340ppm, 350ppm was described as the safe upper limit by former NASA climate scientist James Hansen in 1988, fossil fuel companies like Exxon Mobile made fairly accurate predictions about global warming, predicting that carbon dioxide levels would rise to 418ppm in 2019. Last year we reached 415ppm for the first time.

While we knew quite a lot for a very long time, climate science only broke into mainstream consciousness when the IPCC released it’s report early October 2018 and climate movements like Friady’s for Future, Sunrise and Extinction Rebellion began to sound the alarm.

Yet, the main focus of conversation and reporting was on fossil fuel companies themselves, on investment companies who financed the fossil fuel industry, on governments who still heavily subsidised carbon emitting corporations, related industries like aviation and construction and the news media, who still largely fails to accurately educate the public about what scientists are predicting and what is being done to prevent it.

[include_blockquote style=1] Scientists predict data centres to contribute up to 14% of greenhouse gases by 2040 [/include_blockquote]

Far less light was shone on industries like the internet, who’s enormous consumption of electricity keeps fossil fuel burning energy providers in business. While there was a lot of focus on e.g. aviation and the emerging phenomenon of flight shame, not much is being talked about our browsing habits and data consumption. Yet, the internet is as big of a polluter as aviation and with our increasing need to store large amounts of data and the growing amount time we spent online, CO2 emissions emitted by data centres are expected to increase significantly over the coming years.

At present, the internet is emitting about the same amount of carbon dioxide as aviation and shipping, contributing to about 2.5% of global emissions. But scientists predict data centres to contribute up to 14% of greenhouse gases by 2040. In 2016 the internet consumed already far more energy than Britain and while there were only about 500.000 data centres in 2012, the number increased to over 8 Million last year.

So, how do things look like when it comes to building websites? How can you contribute as web designer or as website owner to divesting from fossil fuels? Well, the first thing to look at are the web hosting companies. and their data centres. Where do they get their electricity from? How efficient are they? What is their position on climate change?

When I began researching hosting providers, I started with the company that I used myself for years, which has been recommended as one of the top three web hosting companies by WordPress, the CMS that I am working with:. Just a few month ago Siteground began moving their data centres to Google Cloud, one of the top three cloud computing providers. Other large providers are Amazon, Microsoft and Apple. Some of them claim to be carbon neutral already. Google for example declared in 2017 that they achieved 100% renewable energy. Microsoft recently announced that it aims to be carbon negative by 2030.

However while such announcement sound great, it usually means that these companies are still using electricity that has been produced by burning fossil fuels. While declaring to be 100% renewable, Google’s real sustainable energy consumption only made up 56%. 14% came from natural gas, 15% did still come from coal and another 10% from nuclear power plants, according to Greenpeace’s click clean report from the same year as Google’s 100% renewable statement.

In order to claim to be fully sustainable, most companies actually have to rely on purchasing RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates), in the US or REGO (Renewable Guarantees of Origin) certificates in the UK. These are artificially made up units that can be sold by renewable energy providers. Whoever buys them is financially supporting the green industry. This is more or less the same like offsetting your fights. You emit CO2 into the atmosphere but in order to feel like being climate conscious, you get a company to plant a tree somewhere else. Some argue that these are sound practices others call it greenwashing.

While such certificates are certainly a positive additional stream of revenue for renewable energy providers that allows them to grow their market share, the only thing that really helps reducing emissions, is to stop burning fossil fuels. In his paper ‘Degrowth’, Jason Hickel, a British anthropologist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, explained that since electricity demand is increasing overall, the percentage at which renewable energy is growing, is by far not enough to reduce global carbon emissions. In fact, last year’s Emissions Gap Report shockingly revealed that we are nowhere near reducing greenhouse gasses, but instead are still steadily increasing carbon output. As opposed to reducing g;obal emissions, we increased output by about 2.7% in 2018, after a 1.6% increase in 2017.

And while some of what large companies are able to do because of their size and capital, like developing AI to increase data centre efficiency and moving data centres to cooler climates in order to keep energy consumption low for cooling server farms, is very positive, there are also disturbing news that some of these large providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are actively supporting and funding the fossil fuel industry and climate denying interest groups.

So, if you care about the climate, it might be a good idea to start checking out the green credentials of your website hosting company as well. In the coming weeks I will do more research into some smaller hosting providers, some who claim to be running exclusively on wind energy. To get started on reviewing your own website hosing, do a quick check with the Green Web Foundation’s website checker. If it returns a grey badge call your provider and ask what they are doing about switching to renewable energy. And if you feel that they are not really green and don’t really sound that they are on the ball, you might want to make some preparations to move your website somewhere else.

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What is the carbon footprint of your website? https://frankgresslin.net/what-is-the-carbon-footprint-of-your-website/ Fri, 20 Mar 2020 08:16:59 +0000 https://frankgresslin.net/?p=331 What is the carbon footprint of your website?

Much of the focus of internet content providers is on how to reduce server load times in order to keep the CO2 footprint low. London based Web Design Agency Wholegrain Digital developed this useful testing tool that checks the size and load time of your website and calculates how much CO2 each page load emits.

Continue reading What is the carbon footprint of your website? at Frank Gresslin.

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What is the carbon footprint of your website?

Much of the focus of internet content providers is on how to reduce server load times in order to keep the CO2 footprint low. London based Web Design Agency Wholegrain Digital developed this useful testing tool that checks the size and load time of your website and calculates how much CO2 each page load emits.

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Greenpeace’s Click Green Report https://frankgresslin.net/greenpeaces-click-green-report/ Mon, 16 Mar 2020 14:58:47 +0000 https://frankgresslin.net/?p=262 Greenpeace’s Click Green Report

Since 2009 Greenpeace is benchmarking internet providers and publishing the origins of their electricity and evaluating their overall position on transitioning to a green internet. Their most recent report is from 2017.

Continue reading Greenpeace’s Click Green Report at Frank Gresslin.

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Greenpeace’s Click Green Report

Since 2009 Greenpeace is benchmarking internet providers and publishing the origins of their electricity and evaluating their overall position on transitioning to a green internet. Their most recent report is from 2017.

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