Green Web hosting has become a pretty common term these days, with a multitude of companies proudly taking on the description and promoting clean renewable methods of powering their data centers. Plug in the term “green Web hosting” on the Internet and an overwhelming amount of sites will display, promising technologies such as “wind powered hosting,” “solar powered servers” or “sustainable websites.” TopHosts took a closer look at this new hosting market and at what it truly takes to uphold this environmental stamp of approval.
Phil Nail, Technology Manager of Affordable Internet Services Online (AISO.net) told TopHosts that they currently stand alone within the industry as a truly green Web host. The company provides a 100% solar powered operation, their own environmentally friendly designed data center, and a redundant solar powered network, on their own land in Romoland, California.
Their steel framed data center – with no wood except for the door frames – maintains 120 solar panels on two large sets of arrays, capable of generating up to 60 kilowatts of electricity each day. Through its commitment to solar hosting, and through various other clean, renewable practices, AISO’s system eliminates the production of 19,890 pounds of Carbon Dioxide (greenhouse gas) per year, 5.9 pounds of Nitrous Oxide (NOX/smog) per year, and 0.45 pounds of Sulfur Dioxide (acid rain) per year – equivalent to planting 3.5 acres of trees per year. And all the while, Nail says AISO supplies Web hosting plans comparable in price and just as reliable as any other company out there.
Degrees of Green Hosting
But while more green hosting companies hit the scene, Nail warns most are not as environmentally committed as they appear. “We check everyday and haven’t found anybody else that actually has green power at their facility,” Nail said. “You really have to read between the lines to see what they really have and then finally you see – green credits.”
In fact, what makes the vast majority of these Web hosts green is the purchase of renewable energy credits (REC). Web hosts audit the amount of harmful greenhouse-gas producing energy they use, and then purchase RECs which fund and support the production of renewable energy across the country. This process is said to offset the amount of greenhouse gases produced by the Web host, which allow these companies to label themselves “green”, Nail explained.
According to AISO’s website, many of the so-called green Web hosts out there don’t run any environmentally friendly technologies at all, but instead buy RECs as a marketing tactic in hopes of making you think they’re helping the environment. AISO says many RECs merely go toward helping polluting power companies boost their green portfolios and meet EPA or government guidelines. “One of the things that has to change is these companies have to stop looking to traditional power and data centers. They have to buy their own buildings and land and use their own green services… and buying green credits doesn’t make your company green,” Nail said.
Green Hosting Compromise
Yet Greg Willson, an Environmental Engineer with PlanetMind.net, a green Web hosting provider, says installing solar panels or constructing wind turbines isn’t exactly a viable option for every Web host at the moment. Without more government help and subsidies, entry costs for implementing renewable technologies can be high and difficult without the proper land, location and money. Willson says purchasing RECs, while employing as many environmentally sound practices as possible, is also a significant part of the green Web hosting movement.