How to Give Your Website an Eco-Friendly Digital Footprint

April 24, 2024 / Web Hosting


While your website might be an indispensable part of your operations, it will also contribute to global CO2 emissions. With an urgent need to tackle climate change, and sustainability becoming increasingly relevant for consumers, reducing your site’s carbon footprint can be good for the environment and your business. In this post, we look at the environmental impact of websites and the measures you can take to give your site an eco-friendly digital footprint.

The environmental impact of websites

The internet is a major contributor to global CO2 emissions, generating 3.7% of the world’s annual carbon dioxide output . The vast majority of this is created by powering and cooling servers in the thousands of data centres that host websites and business systems. Much of the rest is caused by powering the devices people use to access the internet and in transmitting data from one location to another. Indeed, the further data needs to travel, the more CO2 is created.

Though individual websites will only contribute a tiny fraction of the internet’s carbon output, if every website owner made even small changes to make their sites greener, the combined impact would be significant.

Choose green hosting

One of the biggest changes a website owner can implement to make their site more sustainable is to choose a greener web host. Pressure from customers is making more hosting providers improve sustainability, but it is hard to discover which ones are having a real impact. While many opt for carbon offsetting, this doesn’t actually reduce the amount of CO2 they generate. Offsetting means paying for projects that will help reduce global emissions equivalent to the amount the company produces – it’s more about balancing numbers than cutting emissions. A more impactful choice would be to choose a host that uses renewable green energy to power their data centres, and which can evidence this with Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates.

Another thing to look for when choosing a green host is ISO 14001 certification. This proves that the provider’s data centres have effective environmental management systems; they use resources and cut waste efficiently; and they comply with environmental performance standards. Greener hosts will also take part in the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) and comply with Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) regulations. Sustainable providers will also invest in eco-friendly technologies, like SSDs, and choose like-minded partners to build greener supply chains.

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Domain Name

A greener website

The CO2 your website generates is a direct result of the amount of energy it uses. Making changes to how your site is designed can make a big difference in how much power it needs. By reducing the amount of data being sent, you can reduce the energy the server needs for processing and the amount needed to transmit data. One way to achieve this is to compress large media files, like photos and videos, so that the data size of each is smaller. Installing a plugin that minifies your CSS, HTML and JavaScript files has a similar effect. Caching is also helpful as it enables static elements of your site to be stored on a user’s browser. This means the next time they visit they don’t need to download entire pages. All these improvements also help your site load faster, which is another incentive to implement them.

As for the design of the website itself, consider making it simpler and get rid of any unnecessary elements. Not only will this reduce the amount of data being processed and transmitted, but it can also improve the user experience by making it easier for visitors to navigate your site.

Finally, you should uninstall any plugins or add-ons that you no longer use as they can also increase the burden on your server and lead to more data being sent over the internet.

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Use a Content Delivery Network

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) were an innovation originally used to speed up website loading times. Essentially, they are servers hosted at various locations around the planet which cache the static content of websites. By being in multiple locations, it means that when a user visits your website, the nearest of those servers is used to deliver the content to them, helping it arrive quicker than from your main server. This proximity, however, also has an eco-friendly effect as the data has less distance to travel and so the amount of CO2 generated when sending it is reduced.

In addition, CDNs also optimise the way your content is served, such as compressing files and making images smaller, thus reducing energy consumption even more.

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Updating software

Regularly updating core website software and plugins is essential for removing vulnerabilities and improving security. It also ensures compatibility with updates in other software and brings new features and performance improvements. This is why we always recommend implementing automatic updates where feasible.

More recently, however, developers have also become concerned with sustainability and are making changes to their applications to help them be more environmentally friendly. For example, they are improving how they code their software so that it needs less energy to process and transmit data. This can include minimising the scripts or even optimising how the software processes data. As a result, new versions are likely to be more energy-efficient than older ones.

Carbon offsetting

While we have mentioned that service providers use carbon offsetting, it is also possible for website owners to do this themselves. Though this won’t reduce the amount of CO2 your site generates, it can help you achieve net zero by investing in environmental projects, like tree planting, which removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, or in clean energy solutions, like solar power.

For carbon offsetting to be beneficial, you would first need to calculate how much CO2 your website generates. The simple way to do this is to use a free tool like which can provide you with information such as your CO2 output per page visit and your overall annual emissions. It will also tell you whether your host uses green energy and grade your website’s eco-friendliness in comparison to others.

Once you have your annual CO2 emissions data, you can then use this to offset the necessary amount to achieve net zero.

Educating visitors

By promoting your sustainability efforts on your website, you not only make your business more attractive to green consumers, but you also encourage more visitors to think about how they use the internet. The first place to get them to change their behaviour is on your own site. For instance, when giving them the choice to print a document or view it online, you could mention the carbon cost of each option. A similar choice could be given with regard to email preferences. As an email with lots of images, fonts and colours produces more than ten times the amount of CO2 than a plain text email (50g compared to 4g) it’s a choice that can have a big impact over time, especially if you send lots of emails.


If every website owner made even a small reduction in their site’s carbon footprint, the overall effort would make a real difference to climate change. Putting this in place means choosing greener hosting, making your site work more sustainably, updating software, using a CDN, offsetting carbon emissions and educating your visitors. Besides a smaller CO2 footprint, the benefits of sustainability for individual sites include making your business more appealing to eco-conscious consumers and, depending on the techniques you use, speeding up your website to improve user experience and search engine ranking.

Looking for reliable, secure and high-performance hosting that runs on eco-friendly infrastructure? Find out how Webhosting UK delivers greener hosting for your website.


  • Pooja Kulkarni

    I'm experienced SEO specialist. With a focus on the technical aspects of SEO, I work to enhance website's visibility and overall performance seamlessly.

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