Get Serious about Renewable Energy with Green Web Hosting

by Sandy Boyd on May 23, 2013

If you’re running any kind of online business that includes a web site, there are several options out there for environmentally-friendly or green web hosting.

Why restrict your eco-conscious choices to just your home? Your web hosting company may seem a distant and unremarkable part of your life, but you can make some green choices that will make an impact.

Of the many companies that announce their environmental policies, there is a wide range of initiatives that you can find. Here are some of the more common ways that a hosting company can help the environment:

Their Power Sources – This is the main area where a web hosting company can make green choices, by powering their systems with clean renewable energy. The most common way to do this is when the company chooses a power company that offers clean energy, possibly in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates. Some companies, like AISO.net and iPage, take it one step farther and actually produce their own energy. Considering that the main resource any web host uses is electricity, this is the biggest area where a company can be green.

Other Resource Use – Aside from actual power usage, there are other ways that a company can reduce its energy footprint. Some may be committed to running a paperless office, to using equipment with high standards of energy efficiency, or other practices that keep resource use down. Telecommuting is a common option for employees to reduce transportation energy and to help keep office resource requirements low. Recycling or even compost programs are a typical aspect of any green web host as well.

Additional Environmental Perks – Companies may choose to help the planet by using their profits to purchase carbon offsets or to plant trees. Some may donate part of their proceeds to known environmental charities or causes. With a little creativity, companies can come up with all kinds of ways to help the environment through their business practices.

Many web hosting companies will take on a mix of these initiatives to create their own unique green system plan.

Green Web Hosting

Look for this logo when seeking a green web hosting solution.

Choosing a Green Web Host
You’ll have to examine each company’s environmental policies and make the decision for yourself. A mix of policies may be more appealing to you than just a company that uses renewable energy alone. And aside from their green concerns, you really do have to choose a company that is going to offer you good service for your money.

Don’t be blinded by their excellent renewable energy plan, only to find out later that they offer tiny server space, minimal bandwidth or poorly functioning tools. You still want a good company. Most green web hosts have costs that are comparable with other companies though they can be slightly higher. You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune though to work with an environmentally responsible company.

A few other companies you could be looking at are GreenGeeks, DreamHost or HostPapa. Here are some specifics on these companies:

Green Geeks – Green Geeks stands out for me because they go one step farther and are actually 300% powered by renewable energy. In other words, they purchase 3 times as many energy credits as they actually need to balance their own power usage. Within their office, they have strict recycling programs and allow many staffers to telecommute.

DreamHost – The offices at DreamHost are very energy conscious with all the resources they use (from power to paper). They also invest in Renewable Energy Credits as well as emission-offset credits to virtually cancel out their energy use and carbon emissions.

HostPapa – They’re certified by both Green-e and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and offset all of their energy usage with Renewable Energy Credits that support local solar and wind energy providers.

Check Their Credentials
You probably shouldn’t just take their word for it when it come to their energy initiatives. Check for 3rd party verification too. Certification from Green-e, Planet Positive, EPA Green Power Partner, Bonneville Environmental Foundation or the use of Green Tags are all things to look for when researching a web host.

Worried about Switching?
For those of us who aren’t very technically minded when it comes to web servers, it can be a daunting idea to switch companies for any existing sites or web businesses you are running. Contact the company you are looking to switch to and ask about the process. They want your business so they should take the time to walk you through a change-over. If they won’t answer your questions, you should pick another host.

For a typical WordPress website, for example, you just have to backup all your files from your existing server, install WordPress at the new host and then upload your saved files at the new location. Then once that is done, change the name server registration for your URL to “point” to the new location. I’m simplifying a fair bit but that really is the gist of the process so you shouldn’t let that kind of fear stop you from choosing a more environmentally-friendly business to work with in terms of your hosting.

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