Balancing Power and the Planet: Steps to Improve Your Website’s Sustainability

September 01, 2023

In an era of increasing environmental awareness, sustainability has become a crucial consideration across every industry. Whether your favorite coffee shop has started carrying compostable straws or the flight you just booked is “carbon-neutral,” signs that consumers are looking to reduce their impact on our planet and looking to businesses to do the same are everywhere.

Yet, in the climate-saturated media environment we find ourselves in today, there are a few non-physical, and, shall we say, less tangible environmental impacts that have slipped through the cracks of public knowledge. One such impact is the internet’s unsustainable energy consumption.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, data is collected, exchanged, processed and stored in supercomputers around the world. These advanced data collection centers often overheat and require cooling by — you guessed it — non-green energy (aka gas-powered electricity).

According to the Eco-Friendly Web Alliance, this cycle of overheating and cooling “contributes to 3.7% of global carbon emissions.” To put that in perspective, that’s equivalent to the entire country of Japan’s global carbon dioxide (CO2) emission contribution, the fifth highest polluting country in the world.

There are practical steps any business can take to reduce its website’s contribution to carbon emissions. Here are a few:

By optimizing your website’s performance and, in turn, minimizing your server load, you’ll not only have a more efficient site but an eco-friendlier one too. Here are some practical strategies for reducing your website’s energy consumption:

1. Compress Images: Large image files can slow your site’s loading speed significantly and increase your user’s energy consumption. By using an image compression tool, such as TinyPNG, you can reduce image file sizes without compromising their quality.

2. Eliminate “Code Bloat:” Code bloat refers to excessive and redundant code on your site. Review your codebase to identify and remove any redundant or unused code sections. Combining and minifying CSS and JavaScript files with the aid of a developer will reduce your site’s server requests and improve loading times while reducing energy consumption.

3. Improve SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your site’s searchability in popular internet browsers, such as Google and Bing. SEO best practices, including using relevant keywords, writing metadata and organizing your site’s content efficiently, all enhance the user’s searching and site-viewing experience while reducing your site’s server load.

Streamlined design and development practices can also significantly reduce your website’s environmental impact by optimizing your site’s performance and reducing the energy required to run the website.

1. Clean Code: Well-structured code — the opposite of code bloat, as previously mentioned — will improve your site’s loading time. Writing clean code may also include removing unnecessary plugins and scripts that contribute to your site’s higher energy consumption. Use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool for more ideas about how to increase your site speed and reduce its server load.

2. Responsive Design: Develop your site to responsively adapt to different screen sizes and ensure optimal performance across devices. This streamlined design eliminates the need for separate mobile and desktop versions of your site while minimizing server requests, reducing data transfer and optimizing your site speed.

3. Opt for a Green Web Host: It’s about time we all chose a web host with energy-efficient data centers. See if your website’s host is green by typing your site’s URL into the Green Web Foundation’s check or searching their free Directory.

Get Accredited: The Eco-Friendly Web Alliance is an award-winning social enterprise that has developed the world’s first eco standards and accreditation for websites. You could submit your site today for their free audit and find out how you can take action to improve your site’s sustainability and receive their Climate Positive Website Accreditation.

All in all, adopting sustainable website practices is essential to not only reducing your site’s carbon footprint but advancing its overall functionality. An accessible and streamlined website is a sustainable one. So, integrate green website practices into your website development and maintenance to create a site that excels in performance and making the world a better place.

Seeking support for your website’s sustainability? For any questions or inquiries about website marketing for economic development and destination marketing organizations, please reach out to [email protected]. Our in-house specialists are here to help you with everything from improving your site’s SEO to transferring to a green host .

Written by

Samantha Dady

Senior Specialist, SEM & Media