With hundreds of web hosting providers to choose from, there are numerous criteria that determine which hosting company an individual or small business will choose. Considerations such as price, reliability, loading time, availability of tech support, and scalability of hosting plans may all factor into a decision. But there is one thing that few people take into consideration: environmental responsibility.

Why Green Hosting Is Important

There are a growing number of green hosting companies that provide environmentally friendly services, and it’s easy to understand why there is a growing need for this kind of hosting product. There is a growing public clamor for cleaner, less oil-dependent services across the board, and while that demand is largely driven by a desire to reduce pollution and protect the environment, there is no question that the need for fossil fuel resources such as coal, natural gas, and oil is rapidly outstripping supply.

It’s easy to overlook the environmental impact of web hosting. Even businesses that pride themselves on minimizing their carbon footprint might not realize how much energy is required to power the server on which their website resides. In a 2010 study, it was shown that data center power use accounted for between 1.1% and 1.5% of total electricity use worldwide, and a little more than 2% in the United States.

Keeping in mind that most web hosts are still powered by conventional energy sources such as coal-fired power plants and that the demand for hosting is likely to grow tremendously over the next decade, it’s easy to see why greener website hosting options are important. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020 the amount of pollution created by the information technology industry will surpass the airline industry. Unfortunately, because servers are so energy hungry, it’s unlikely that hosting providers will be able to supply all of their own energy needs with on-site renewable energy options such as solar panels or wind turbines. That being the case, how can hosting companies become more environmentally responsible, and what constitutes a ‘green’ host provider?

What Makes a Web Host Provider ‘Green’?

There are a few ways that a hosting company can make themselves carbon neutral, some of which involve traditional energy-saving strategies that can be used in any office, and some of which involve supporting renewable energy efforts of power utility companies.

The easiest way for a web host to become carbon neutral is to purchase RECs or Renewable Energy Credits. These credits are purchased from the hosting company’s power provider and represent renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and solar plants controlled by the electrical utility. This is an indirect way of offsetting the carbon resources used by the server and helps the power company develop renewable energy sources and reduce emissions.

Another way hosting companies can make their servers greener is by reducing the overall power consumption in their business operation. This proactive way of reducing demand for fossil fuels usually involves measures that can be taken in any office environment such as powering the building via solar energy and reducing the need for energy by using LED lights or natural lighting during the day. Other proactive initiatives include asking employees to carpool and reducing or eliminating the use of paper within the office.

Other companies find ways of making their business greener by contributing to the community. This may include donating directly to renewable energy non-profits or planting a tree for each package sold. Measures such as using the servers to heat nearby offices are a novel way to make use of the servers themselves to reduce heating costs.

Two hosting-specific ways that companies may reduce demand for energy is by making their hardware more energy efficient, which is a method that is frequently used by green hosting companies to reduce power needs, and heating the office with the residual heat produced by the servers, which is a novel and creative idea but may not be applicable in every information technology company.

What Sets GreenGeeks.com Apart

Independently owned and operated since 2008, GreenGeeks.com was one of the first companies to recognize the need for greener hosting and is now one of the best known environmentally friendly hosting businesses.

GreenGeeks offers everything that one would expect from a web host: their shared hosting services offer unlimited space and bandwidth, they have 99.9% uptime, and support representatives available by chat and email around the clock to ensure every customer’s needs are met. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee to anyone who isn’t satisfied with their services.

What really sets GreenGeeks apart, however, is their commitment to green hosting. In addition to maximizing the power efficiency of their servers and housing those servers in buildings designed to be more environmentally friendly, GreenGeeks works with environmental foundations to purchase wind energy credits. These wind energy credits equal 300% of the company’s energy demands, making GreenGeeks not only carbon neutral but carbon negative. It’s for this reason that GreenGeeks is a recognized EPA Green Power Partner.

When choosing a hosting provider, cost and reliability of service will always be prime considerations, but with the rising importance of information technology to both business and individuals and the soaring power demand of hosting companies, it’s important to be mindful of the hidden environmental impact of website hosting. For those reasons, GreenGeeks’ commitment to green power makes them one of the best choices for environmentally responsible web hosting.