What makes a website “green”? Green can be defined as using less energy because the less energy used, the less needs produced. Fossil fuels are a large part of energy production, but they also create gasses that harm our environment. There are things we can do in the real world to be more green. A home, for example, is much easier to make green by adding insulation or turning down the thermostat. Buying a vehicle that uses less energy is also considered green, but how can a website be green? Lets take a look at how a website works from a physical standpoint and then from a virtual one to determine if a website can indeed become green.
A website is hosted on a computer running somewhere on this planet Earth. That computer is most likely a server running in a data center, which may or may not be eco-friendly. It is probably greener than it was a couple of years ago due to computer chip manufacturing companies like Intel and AMD who have been producing chips that use less and less energy. This helps cut electricity to run the servers and in air conditioning to cool them down.
When a website is requested from anywhere in the world, the requesting computer is also using electricity as well as the all the networking equipment along the path to get from the data center to the computer. Initially you might think that adding up the servers at the data center, the hubs, switches, and routers along the way, and your computer might add up to a lot of energy and that websites might not have a chance to be green. And you would be right, but consider that these things are already on anyway and it doesn’t take any more power to run them whether you access a website or not and you might be feeling a little bit better about surfing.
From a web designer’s standpoint, there are some things we can do. We can make black backgrounds which reduce the amount of energy cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors need to display the website, but everyday more people are switching to using liquid crystal displays (LCD) instead, which use the same amount of energy regardless of the color. Not every design can be done in black and so there are other things we can do, as web designers. We can encourage users not to print forms and create PDF versions or custom web forms to cut down on paper. Sometimes being green is more than just saving energy and reducing greenhouse gases. Sometimes its about saving trees which also help reduce greenhouse gases.
So can a website be green? Absolutely. If all things remain the same and the only change we make as web designers is to keep the environment in our design process, then the website can be green. It is up to us, up to all of us, to do our due diligence to preserve our environment and continue to innovate in ways that help us all. If you need help innovating your website, consider the Indianapolis web design company, Erich Stauffer.