I’ve been trying to reduce my ecological impact on the planet for several months. Some of this has meant not taking flights, while other parts have involved me re-evaluating more habitual choices I make such as my diet.
A small, but not insignificant, service I rely on is web servers, domain hosting and the like. I had been a loyal Dreamhost customer for many years and have had no reason to complain about their services. Cheap, fast, and their web panel does everything you’d want from it.
So why should you care about your internet server’s ecological footprint? Because small things matter and because the internet is no small thing. In fact, some reports project the infrastructure of the internet to be as big a polluter as the airline industry by 2020.
I started looking into Dreamhost’s green credentials and at first glance there’s no real reason to make any changes. From their website:
“When we learned that running DreamHost generated as much carbon dioxide as 545 average-size homes we realized we had to do something to neutralize our emissions. With a bit of research we found the most effective approach begins with resource conservation: turning off the lights, reducing travel, printing on both sides of the page. Efforts are being ramped up here daily to do what we do with less. The next step is to use clean, renewable energy. Without the option to put up solar panels or connect with a green power utility for us this means investing in renewable energy projects taking place right here in the United States through the purchase of carbon offsets. Finally, to neutralize those unavoidable emissions from our day-to-day operations (e.g. purchases of office products, commuting, and planned travel) we’ve invested in carbon offsets from international renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, effectively erasing our remaining greenhouse gas emissions.”
There’s a little more to their pitch, but the bottom-line is that they claim to be carbon neutral.
I won’t go into the various ways in which carbon offsetting schemes are essentially scams, but it’s worth knowing that there seems to be a pretty high risk that things aren’t what they seem.
That’s when I discovered GreenGeeks. There are a bunch of different domain / hosting / server providers that cater to those who want to leave less of a footprint, and GreenGeeks seem to be one of the larger of these. They have a long history, which is useful given that many of the services I visited were already defunct.
Above all, I needed a service that could do pretty much everything that Dreamhost offered. It was a tall order, but GreenGeeks fits the bill.
Moreover, GreekGeeks are a whole lot more environmentally-friendly than Dreamhost, it turns out. For every unit of energy consumed by their servers/customers, they invest in green companies and green energy sources three times over:
”At GreenGeeks we work with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation out of Portland, Oregon. They are an EPA recognized and approved Green Power Partner as is GreenGeeks. Through the Bonneville foundation GreenGeeks purchases energy powered by wind to be put back into the grid and we purchase 3 times the amount of energy we consume to be put back into the grid making GreenGeeks 300%. We do this for all of our servers and all of our employee work spaces and computers.”
In an email from their support team, they explained this further:
“When we say 300% green, we mean that we contribute such a large amount of funding to green energy companies that we are actually 200% carbon negative, and our servers’ carbon emissions are 100% offset.”
So I’ve started work to transfer my domains over from Dreamhost to GreenGeeks. I have only been using them for a few weeks, and while I’ve had no problems so far, it’s too early to offer an unqualified endorsement so I’ll make a note to write more here in six months from now.
If you’re currently using web hosting of some sort, I’d encourage you to check out GreenGeeks or some other eco-friendly option.