How green is green web hosting really?

We see a lot of web hosting advertising for green hosting plans lately. But do hosts that call their hosting “green” really power all of their servers with 100%, 130% or 300% environmental-friendly energy? Am I right in my good conscience that my website is now running on pure sun or wind energy, or is there some kind of magic trick to it?

Take for example HostGator: They say they are powered to 130% by pure wind energy. However, it doesn’t work like “Hey, let’s plug our server farm to the next wind energy power plant!” Actually, most hosting companies buy Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) that entitle them to call your service green, without having to change their power supplier. This would turn out to be impossible, as a web hosting service consumes large amounts of megawatt-hours 24/7, and you won’t be taken with your host if your site is offline once there is no sun or no wind around …

Or as Greengeeks, another large green web hosting company, states:

In order to compensate for the power we pull from the grid we purchase wind energy credits for the energy we consume from the grid.

Besides these Renewable Energy Certificates all green web hosting companies are taking steps to further reduce their power consumption, like power efficient, cool hardware that doesn’t need to be cooled as much as old servers.

So even if “green” web hosting is not as green as it should be, companies accept their responsibility for future generations and take first steps, like buying these certificates that allow them to entitle themselves “green”. We are years, if not tens of years away from the day that we all pull 100% renewable energy from the grid, but some day coal and nuclear plants will be history. And from this day on, running your internet business or surfing the net for hours will leave you in good conscience.

All that’s left to us by now is to support those hosts that already do what they can do, and if renewable energy certificates and more efficient servers are the practicable and possible way to go, I’ll join them.

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Written by Joe on Jan 21, 2011 | See also: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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