Web Hosting 2.0 – Green Web Hosting

WindmillsStop the presses! Web hosting 2.0 is here. The revolutionary technology that web hosting 2.0 entails? Trees, wind power, and renewable energy.

Okay, so it may not be web hosting 2.0 and it may not be ultra exciting from a technological standpoint, but eco-friendly hosting or green web hosting is becoming more and more mainstream.

The fact is that many technology consumers are concerned about the human potential to degrade the environment and the sense that our hundreds of millions of cars and computers are not helping the planet. Rising temperatures may or may not be related to global warming, but the notion that humans in general have had a negative affect on the environment has begun to be absorbed by the web hosting industry.

Several hosting providers have set out to at least balance their part of what hosting does to negatively impact the environment. These hosts use alternative and/or renewable energy to power their datacenters, plant trees for every server sold, and even telecommute to save gas. They are investing a lot of time, money, and other resources into helping the environment.

Some of these hosting companies are huge and others are small. It’s interesting to observe web hosts of all sizes are making a commitment to helping the environment.

According to industry expert Isabel Wang, a lot of companies are simply paying to offset their environmental problems. Dell and Salesforce.com are among the companies that anywhere from $4.75 to $6.40 per ton of CO2 emissions.

So is green hosting a publicity stunt to get environmentally conscious technology consumers to sign up for hosting? It’s hard to tell, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Players in the World of Green Web Hosting:

  • Ten year old ASIO.net (www.aiso.net) is a major “green hosting” provider. They exclusively use solar energy to power their company. Their average plan is more expensive than many hosts, but the company’s reputation is quite good and it seems that you get what you pay for.
  • ThinkHost (review) is another large “green hosting” company. The company’s plans are 100% wind and solar powered and their team telecommutes (read: works from home) to save fuel. Their plans seem to be the cheapest of their “green” competitors.
  • Sustainable Websites (http://www.rackspace.com), the managed hosting giant that pioneered “Fanatical Support” promises to plant a tree for every server they sell. They have also switched to HP servers, which are supposedly better for the environment than Dells.

For further reading, see Matt Heaton of BlueHost’s comments on Green Web Hosting and Clickfire’s review of green web host, ThinkHost.

Douglas Hanna

Douglas Hanna is a former writer for Clickfire and other publications who went on to become CEO of a major web hosting company.

16 comments

  1. Thanks for that plug. We are doing more then just using solar panels to power our servers, data center and our office…We have gone beyond Thinkhost, Sustainable Websites and all the others by doing more then just making sure our electricity is environmentally friendly. AISO yes is solar powered, both our servers and data center are powered by onsite solar panels. But we also have a partnership with Co-Op America, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Green Building Council (USBGC). Our data center and office is green too by using environmentally friendly, low energy water based air conditioners, solar tubes to bring in natural light during the day, a propane powered generator instead of diesel (which most other hosting companies have), VMWare virtualization to reduce our server electricity usage, 6 watt energy saving desktop computers for our employees, and soon to be LEED certified as a green data center, the only public one in North America. We have been featured in Inc. Magazines’ Top 50 Green Companies along with the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine, ComputerWorld and Entrepreneur Magazine just to name a few. AISO is also the first and currently the only public data center that is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. We host big companies to small companies, and our prices are what they are because we provide great support and uptime. To find out more ways we are helping the environment check out our web site.

  2. Michael Bloch

    Hey Douglas, thanks for the mention of ThinkHost!

    I just wanted to make mention that aside from our earth friendly operations, we also plow around 10% of our gross annual revenue value back into the community through cash and hosting donations. We host quite a few environmental organizations at no cost under our free hosting program:

    thinkhost.com/socialchange/

    … along with human rights and grass roots democracy groups; in fact, any non-profit group who provides a benefit to the community we can offer free hosting or a discount. We also provide discounts to progressive principles based companies.

    Progressive business principles are the focal point of our operations (with earth-friendliness being a very important aspect of that). We are committed to giving back to the community that supports us. Speaking of giving back, I’d like to offer your readers free setup and 6 months free hosting on any of our plans with this coupon code:

    THD99999AFM6A

    The code is entered on the order form. Our plans are listed here:

    thinkhost.com/options/

    Thanks again for covering green web hosting – it’s certainly not a publicity stunt for us and some of the other hosting companies involved in this new wave of greenness! Some of our staff are also personally involved with environmental groups; such as myself – it’s great to be able to extend a passion for the environment into our working lives too!

  3. Ant

    I haven’t decided if I am comfortable yet with having my web site dependant on this type of technology.

  4. Michael Bloch

    Hi there Ant,

    Just noticed this comment from you; even though some months have passed, I thought I’d address it. You’ll find that most web hosts powered directly by renewable energy have generators as backup and still have some connection to the grid in case of a total disaster. As for us, we use RECs – how they work is explained in more detail here:

    thinkhost.com/socialchange/renewable-energy-hosting.shtml

    .. but the bottom line is, if the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining, our servers don’t stop working :).

  5. Don’t forget about A2 Hosting. We teamed up with Carbonfund.org to offset our server emissions. You can read the press release here: carbonfund.org/site/more/carbonfree_partner/549

  6. Derrick

    There is a directory of green web hosts (both those that are powered directly with renewable energy and those that try to offset emissions by purchasing credits or in other ways) over at greenwebhosting.info

  7. Aaron Handford

    Hello,

    Of the original list of web hosts in this article, only Aiso.net uses renewable energy to directly power their serves. In this way, they stand out as being truly different.

    We liked their company so much that we have partnered with them to offer solar powered web hosting as well. We are called solarenergyhost.com.

  8. Emory Rowland

    Mitch has an interesting contrary viewpoint to green web hosting: webhostingshow.com/2008/05/07/when-is-a-green-web-host-really-green/

  9. HostGator has now gone green! :)
    hostgator.com/green-web-hosting.shtml

  10. Doh

    Hi Emory,
    Does Thinkhost still exist? I’ve tried getting to them, but for months now I’ve just got page loading error.

    I’m pretty sure they’ve gone bust or something.

    Doh

  11. Emory Rowland

    I haven’t heard anything, but I will check around and see if I can find out anything.

  12. ThinkHost, Inc.

    Hey guys,

    Not sure what’s up with the page not loading — we have not had any other similar reports from anyone else, and with thousands of domains hosted, I think we would have heard something by now! ;)

    We’re definitely around and still growing like rabbits! :)

    Doh: I wonder if there is some odd DNS issue at your ISP?

    Thanks!

    -Vladislav


    ThinkHost, Inc.
    thinkhost.com

  13. First – Thank you for your useful, objective reviews! I’ve been poking around on and off for three days and this is the best resource I’ve found.

    Second – Thanks for the review of green hosting. As an envrionmental organization, we’d like to use one. Thus far, none of the ones you list – or any others I’ve found – seem to offer Windows hosting. If anyone knows of a green host that does, I’d love to hear about it.

  14. Emory Rowland

    You’re welcome, Oliver. If anyone knows of a green windows host, please comment, thanks.

  15. Turns out that AISO offers Windows hosting, so that’s one at least.

  16. There are many ways that web hosting providers become ‘green’. In some cases it appears to me more greenwashing than real actual greening. Also a consideration is how green is green. Is the provider simply increasing efficiency or buying REC’s and that’s it? Or are they making a concerted effort to make their operations properly sustainable?

    I’ve made a comprehensive list of Green Web Hosting providers where I hope some of those questions are answered. http://davidherron.com/view/green-neutral-web-hosting

Leave a comment