Sustainable Website: why create one

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What is meant by a sustainable website?

A sustainable website refers to a website designed and managed to have a minimal environmental impact and be socially responsible. This idea of sustainability is based on the key principles of environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Here’s what is meant by each aspect of a sustainable website:

Environmental Sustainability

A green website aims to minimize its environmental impact. This may include adopting practices that reduce resource use, energy consumption, and carbon emissions. Key aspects of environmental sustainability include green hosting (using servers powered by renewable energy sources), optimizing images and code to reduce energy consumption, and implementing sustainable development practices.

Economic Sustainability

A sustainable website should be economically sustainable, meaning it must cover operational costs and maintain its online presence without excessive efforts. This may involve choosing business models that are profitable yet ethical and optimizing operational costs.

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability involves respecting ethical principles and promoting socially responsible values. A sustainable website should consider issues such as accessibility, equity, diversity, and inclusion. It should also avoid harmful or unethical practices, such as spreading misinformation or promoting discrimination.


Why Do We Need Sustainable Websites?

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on adopting measures to reduce or offset environmental impact. This trend has taken root not only in global economies but also in everyday life.

In fact, there are predictions that by 2025, sustainability will become one of the top priorities in the IT sector. This perspective should not be surprising, given that we witness a daily migration of activities from the offline world to the digital realm.

Additionally, the use of digital tools, online platforms, and innovative technologies is increasingly common for daily activities such as shopping, travel planning, communication, deadline management, and entertainment.

In fact, the number of active Internet users exceeds 4 billion, and it is estimated that devices connected to the Internet, along with supporting infrastructure, are responsible for 3.7% of greenhouse gas emissions, a figure similar to that of aviation. This percentage is expected to double by 2025.

Furthermore, the vast amount of data required for these daily activities is fueled by a proliferation of data centers worldwide. According to an analysis by the International Data Corporation, in 2020, humans and machines produced over 60 zettabytes of data, equivalent to more than 60 trillion gigabytes.

Considering their current operation and growth rate, by 2025, these data center infrastructures will represent about one-fifth of global electricity consumption, contributing to over 3% of total CO2 emissions worldwide.

By 2040, emissions from digital archives could reach 14%. However, despite these environmental challenges, the transition to a more sustainable dimension of the Internet is progressing at a relatively slow pace.

What Makes a Website “Green”?

A sustainable website refers to a website designed and managed to have a minimal environmental impact and be socially responsible. This concept of eco-friendly internet is based on the key principles of environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

To minimize environmental impact, the internet should be:

  • clean, meaning powered by renewable energies;
  • efficient, in the sense of using fewer energies and material resources;
  • open, capable of giving users control over their data while browsing;
  • honest, meaning not deceptive;
  • regenerative, as it should provide support for human growth;
  • flexible, available to everyone in space and time.

These are the 6 points mentioned in the Sustainable Web Manifesto, the guidelines to follow to reduce the environmental impact of a website.


Advantages of a Sustainable Website

There are several advantages associated with a sustainable website. These benefits can positively impact the environment, user experience, and the reputation of your website or brand. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Reduced environmental impact: A sustainable website reduces its environmental impact through practices like using green hosting, resource optimization, and energy consumption reduction. This contributes to the fight against climate change and the conservation of natural resources.
  • Energy savings and cost reduction: A sustainable website requires less energy to operate, which can translate into lower operational costs for electric hosting. This can be particularly significant for high-traffic websites.
  • Improved performance: Resource, code, and image optimization lead to faster page loading times and a better user experience. Visitors appreciate websites that load quickly and respond promptly.
  • Increased online visibility: Sustainability is an important theme for many individuals and businesses. A sustainable website can attract an audience seeking brands and websites that share their environmental and social values.
  • Enhanced accessibility: A sustainable website often pays special attention to accessibility, meaning it can be used by a broader audience, including users with disabilities.
  • Reduced legal risk and reputation: Adhering to environmental and social regulations can reduce the risk of legal disputes and damage to your reputation. Compliance with ethical standards and regulations is often well-received by the public.
  • Competitiveness: Being at the forefront of sustainability can provide a competitive advantage. You may attract customers, partners, and investors interested in supporting a company that makes a difference in terms of environmental and social responsibility.
  • Bandwidth savings: Resource and file optimization can reduce bandwidth consumption, which is beneficial for visitors and can reduce operational costs.
  • Compliance with regulations: Following local and regional environmental and social regulations can help avoid fines and penalties.
  • Improved customer relations: Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can enhance customer relations, as it shows responsibility toward the environment and society.

All these advantages can positively influence the long-term success and sustainability of your website or brand.

Best Practices for Sustainable Web Design

Sustainable web design best practices focus on how to design and develop websites to reduce environmental impact, improve performance, and promote sustainability. Here are some guidelines and best practices to follow:

  1. Image optimization: Reduce the sizes of images used on the website without compromising quality. Use efficient file formats like WebP and make sure to compress images to reduce server load and improve page loading times.
  2. Clean and efficient code: Write clean, efficient, and well-structured code. Minimize the use of unnecessary scripts and plugins, avoiding bloating pages with unnecessary code.
  3. Minimize HTTP requests: Reduce the number of HTTP requests to the server, such as by combining CSS and JavaScript files and using browser caching. Fewer requests mean less energy consumption.
  4. Use caching systems: Utilize caching systems to temporarily store resources in visitors’ browsers, reducing the need to request them from the server. This enhances performance and reduces server load.
  5. Responsive web design: Ensure the website is designed to be fully functional and well-displayed on mobile devices. This reduces energy consumption associated with mobile device use.
  6. Code compression and reduction: Use code compression and reduction techniques to minimize the sizes of CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files. This will reduce loading times and bandwidth consumption.
  7. Font optimization: Use optimized web fonts to reduce page loading times and resource consumption. Limit the number of font families and styles used.
  8. Performance testing: Regularly conduct performance tests to identify and address slowness or inefficiencies on the website.
  9. Use lazy loading for images: Set up images to load only when they become visible in the user’s browser window, reducing resource consumption.
  10. Responsible social media sharing: Use social media sharing buttons responsibly to avoid excessive loading of external content and data.
  11. Reduce redirects: Minimize the number of redirects on web pages, as they can increase server load and energy consumption.
  12. Continuous monitoring and optimization: Utilize performance monitoring tools to track the website’s efficiency and make constant improvements to reduce resource usage.
  13. Compliance with environmental regulations: Ensure compliance with all local and regional environmental regulations in managing the data center and website.
  14. Green hosting: If possible, host the website on servers that use energy from renewable or low-impact sources.
  15. Reduced heavy media content: Limit the use of heavy video and multimedia content, which requires more resources to display.

Following these best practices for sustainable web design will not only reduce the environmental impact of your website but also improve the user experience and overall website performance.


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