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Green Web Hosting reviews environmental aspects

Hosting reviews here at Greener Web Hosting have been divided into two sections:
1) Environmental reviews (this page)
2) Detailed technical reviews (see next page)


Environmental reviews

Hosting companies marketing themselves as Green Hosting providers range from companies having their own solar panels to few which merely aim to compensate their emission by planting trees. Between these extremes there are all kinds of solutions claiming to make their web hosting service more environmentally friendly. Instead of reviewing the environmental aspects of each green hosting provider individually, we will look at all these available options in general.

Before going into detail about solutions related to energy production, we must emphasize that significant emission reductions can only be achieved through energy savings and energy efficiency (this is equally true with global emission reductions outside the web hosting industry). Due to the higher costs associated with renewable energy, Green hosting providers have more incentive to make sure their data centers are as energy efficient as possible. This is one of the reasons why choosing any green hosting provider, regardless of where they get their energy, is better than ordinary "non-green" hosting.

Here are the alternatives in the order of environmental impact (each case is explained below):

  • Own renewable energy production
  • Renewable energy directly from an electric company
  • Green Certificates
  • Carbon Offsetting
  • Planting trees

    Own renewable energy production

    There are two web hosts listed here on Greener Web Hosting which actually produce their own renewable energy with solar panels. These are Aiso and Solar Energy Host.

    Having your own renewable energy production is by far the best Green hosting option as far as the environment is concerned. If you want a truly green website consider Aiso and Solar Energy Host..

    Renewable energy directly from an electric company

    Buying wind or solar energy directly from an electric company can be almost as good as having your own power production. If you buy renewable energy from a company which only uses renewable energy sources, you can be sure that this is what you pay for.

    On the other hand, if the company uses a mixture of renewable and non-renewable power production, the situation becomes much more complicated. The electric companies can only sell as much green energy as they produce and hence by buying green electricity you encourage the development of new renewable energy sources. Unfortunately, in real life this doesn't always result in more renewable energy production.

    Let's say a power company X uses a mixture of wind, coal, natural gas and nuclear power. To make this easy, let's say each of these energy sources accounts for 25% percent of the energy production. Suppose there is not that much demand for renewable energy at the moment and the company X, sells only 10% of it's electricity to consumers and companies as green energy. In this case, even if the demand would suddenly double, this would still have no direct effect what-so-ever. There would still be no need for the company X to build more wind turbines as the existing wind power is more than enough to meet the demand. In the long run, this might have an effect and guide the decisions when company X is investing in new power generation or it might not.

    The situation is exactly the same when you are purchasing green energy as a consumer. If you can find one, it is better to buy your electricity from an electric company which uses only renewable sources. If there aren't any available, any kind of Green Energy is still better than nothing at all.

    Here is one hosting provider using renewable energy bought directly from a local electric company: Canvas Dreams


    Green Certificates

    Most green hosting companies don't really have wind turbines or solar panels on the roof tops of their server rooms. Instead they have calculated their electricity use and bought Green Certificates (also known as Renewable Energy Certificates - RECs) or Green Tags to cover 100% of their energy use. Some have gone even further and decided to buy more Green Certificates than they actually use. For example Perma Host covers 130% of their energy use with Green Certificates.

    Green Certificates are never quite the same as actually producing your own renewable energy with wind turbines or solar panels. But for hosting companies located in city centers green certificates are often the only option for web hosting with green power and much better than not investing in green electricity at all.

    If you have bought enough Green certificates to cover your energy use, you can claim to be using renewable energy. Still, this does not necessarily lead to emission reductions (see previous chapter above for details). Green certificates are not as bad as they might sound Green certificates are infact far better than carbon offsetting.


    Carbon neutral via offsetting

    The idea of carbon offsetting is to pay for "projects", such as renewable energy power generation in developing countries or planting trees, to compensate for your own emissions. Offsetting alone is by no means enough to be able claim that your website is powered with renewable energy. The whole concept of becoming carbon neutral through offsetting is dubious. Here is an absolutely hilarious website about the concept of carbon offsetting and questions concerning the whole idea: Cheat Neutral.

    Greener Web Hosting does not recommend green hosting companies which rely solely on carbon offsetting.

    Even though relying on carbon offsetting is not enough for a web hosting company to become green, it can still be an added bonus. Some green hosting companies, like Dream Host, have calculated all their emissions including those from their offices and employees commuting to work and use offsetting to become carbon neutral. The important part is that they use Green Certificates to power their data centers and only rely on carbon offsetting to compensate for other emissions which they can't deal with via Green Certificates.

    With all hosting companies there will be some emissions left and using carbon offsetting for those emissions is obviously better than doing nothing at all.


    Planting trees

    This is the least effective green hosting solution, because it does not even try to encourage building new renewable energy production and relies completely on offsetting. It's better than nothing, but not much.

    When you want to have any considerable environmental impact, you should always think in terms of how to change the direction of progress. When you simply plant a few trees, you might be able to store some CO2 in the trees for some time. But that's it this will have no further effect what-so-ever. Even worse, there is no quarantee that the carbon will stay stored in the trees for long.

    Now let's see what you can do to really make an impact: Make it count.

    Greener Web Hosting - home Greener Web Hosting - home Make it count

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    Quick Links to recommended
    Green hosting providers:

    Solar Energy Host   

    Dream Host 
    Canvas Dreams 
    Think Host 
    Perma Host 

    Host Papa 
    Host Gator 

    Note: by our standards ordinary web hosting services have a one or two star rating  any of the featured green hosting providers is better than these.

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