Green Hosting from Mightybytes

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renewable energy powered website hosting illustration

The single most important thing you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your website or digital product is to power it with renewable energy. Here’s how Mightybytes helps our clients reduce their environmental impact with carbon negative website hosting.

The internet has a larger carbon footprint than that of the commercial airline industry and is growing every day due to our global appetite for more data. It is on track to generate more carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change, by 2025 than any country except China, India, and the United States.

Green hosting—website hosting that is powered by renewable energy—is one of the most impactful things you can do to make a difference and mitigate the long-term effects of climate change. It is a key part of a broader Sustainable Web Design strategy.

Our Long Road to Viable Green Hosting

We have published several posts in our sustainable web design series about Mightybytes’ mission to find great green hosting and the subsequent frustration that followed. During this time, Mightybytes has started—and subsequently severed—relationships with many green hosting providers, including Green Geeks, AISO.net, A Small Orange, Dreamhost, and a handful of others. Most of these ties were severed due to problems with site reliability or poor customer service. After a long and mostly unsuccessful search for a green hosting partner, we have finally landed on a good mix.

pantheon logo

Pantheon, which provides cloud-based hosting solution for WordPress and Drupal applications, offers a platform that is stable, scalable, secure, and feature-rich. It gives Mightybytes the tools we need to efficiently manage our client’s hosting accounts with support and customer service that helps us grow this part of our business.

Google Cloud Platform Logo

Pantheon built their own platform atop Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Google is the world’s largest investor in renewable energy, has been carbon neutral since 2007, and is committed to being carbon-free by 2030. Their commitment to sustainability is unmatched by most companies.

Together, these two companies provide an optimal green hosting solution for our clients’ needs. Plus, as part of our own Net Zero commitment, Mightybytes is able to offset any data transfer emissions generated by our account, making our hosting carbon negative. In other words, it removes carbon from the atmosphere while also providing a stable, secure hosting environment for our clients’ websites and digital products.

After such a long search, we are excited to bring the power of carbon negative website hosting to bear for our client’s projects.

Pantheon Efficiency and Service

In addition to offering a great reseller program that includes premium support, onboarding, and training, Pantheon provides key hosting features that our clients need:

  • Speed: Pantheon’s environment is optimized to deliver data more quickly than other providers like AWS, WP Engine, GoDaddy, and others.
  • Uptime & Reliability: Our account is secure with 99.99% uptime and many updates are automated, saving our developers time.
  • Scalable Infrastructure: Our Pantheon account can grow as our customers’ needs do.
  • Customer Service: As an agency reseller, we rest easy knowing that issues get resolved quickly, something our clients truly appreciate.

Plus, we can quickly customize each client’s account based on their specific needs through our agency dashboard. Finally, the company invests in technology innovations like automated testing, serverless CMS implementations, and so on.

Green Hosting Defined: Google’s Energy Mix

Google reached their goal of being 100% powered by renewable energy in 2017. The company then committed to purchasing 2.6 gigawatts of renewable energy, making them the largest non-utility purchaser of renewable energy in the world. According to Greenpeace’s Click Clean Scorecard Chrome Extension, Google produces 46% of its renewable energy needs through onsite wind and solar. The company purchases the remainder of its energy through renewable energy credits (RECs), certificates that allow a company to buy renewable energy without being directly connected to its source.

Graph showing investments in renewable energy by large tech companies
As this graph from Greenpeace’s 2017 Click Clean report shows, Google is far and away the IT sector’s largest investor in renewable energy. They reached their goal of being 100% powered by clean energy in 2017.

Why is this important? As Google’s Director of Global Infrastructure, Gary Demasi, says on the blog post noted above:

Wind and solar resources provide power only when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining but Google’s data centers operate 24×7. If we wanted to power our data centers from adjacently-sited wind or solar and operate disconnected from the rest of the grid, Google’s products would be offline whenever renewable resources aren’t producing energy.

But not all RECs are created equal. Google ensures that the credits it purchases directly contribute to the production of more renewable energy, thereby reducing the effects of climate change. As David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute notes in Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Products and Services this is important because:

If you’re paying for the electricity along with the RECs it’s a viable solution. But if you’re just buying the RECs alone, you’re not actually improving the situation. Companies that purchase RECs and not the electricity that comes with them are, in effect, just buying PR.

In other words, by purchasing unbundled RECs, any hosting provider can claim to be “green” without actually being part of the solution. This is an important distinction.

In Google’s case, they use three criteria for purchasing RECs:

  1. Additionality: making sure their RECs purchases go toward advancing the production of more renewable energy.
  2. Bundled energy and certificates: making sure that both the physical renewable energy and its associated certificates are purchased directly from suppliers and not on the open market, where they can be unbundled.
  3. Proximity: ensuring that the energy source and their data centers are close to each other.

In addition to this, Google has invested in numerous projects meant to maximize the production of renewable energy and new technological innovations in efficiency. All of this makes Google the definitive corporate leader in renewable energy and a champion fighting climate change. We’re happy to get on board with that.

Green the Web With Us!

Statista estimated that 4.66 billion people used the internet in 2020, an increase due at least in part to the global coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, only a small portion of the internet’s power comes from renewable sources. It is now more important than ever to collectively transition to clean energy as soon as possible. Partnering with a stable hosting service powered by renewable energy helps us ensure the digital products and services that Mightybytes builds have as little adverse environmental impact as possible while still offering the same commitment to quality that we are known for.

Mightybytes currently offers green hosting only to customers with a current project or those who have a maintenance contract with us. If you’re interested in making your website more people- and planet-friendly, check out our web sustainability checklist below or look into our digital sustainability services.

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Tim Frick founded Mightybytes in 1998 to help mission-driven organizations solve problems, amplify their impact, and meet business and marketing goals. He is the author of four books, including Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Products and Services from O'Reilly Media. Follow Tim on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.