Why does green hosting matter? You may be surprised to learn that a whopping 10% of UK carbon emissions are generated by IT, and of that 25% comes from data centres. By switching to genuinely green, British-based hosting you will not only be supporting British business but also contributing to the reduction of UK carbon emissions and taking significant steps to reduce your company’s carbon footprint. This could form part of a 10:10 commitment or a MayDay journey, become a plank of your company’s environmental policy or kick-start a process of ‘greening up’ your business.
There are a number of hosting companies in the UK that describe themselves as green, environmentally-friendly etc, but it pays to find out what that claim is based on and then make your own judgment as to when green is really green, partly green or just a nice shade to paint the bandwagon.
There are three main approaches in the UK to green hosting: carbon off-setting, using overseas servers or using efficiently-configured UK-based servers run on renewable energy in an environmentally-friendly data centre.
Carbon off-setting is, in our view, a licence to pollute as it gives a company free rein to do whatever they like as long as they off-set the carbon in some manner. It doesn’t encourage efficiency, reductions in energy use or any real change of habits. It’s lip-service – better than doing nothing, possibly, but it’s not the way forward.
A UK company using overseas servers run on renewable energy is putting its clients in a difficult position. Laudable aims in using renewable power, but data held by a British company abroad is mired in the murky issue of US access to data, a grey area but one which appears to give US authorities access to British data held on servers located in America. This becomes very complex when a British company using a British hosting company’s US-based servers is itself storing client data on those servers – this could be a serious, though unintentional, breach of confidentiality. On top of that, there will be implications for performance if servers are located on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, rather than within the UK.
That leaves us with ‘the third way’ – genuinely green and ethical hosting: servers configured for maximum efficiency and minimum energy consumption, and in a British data centre powered by renewable energy. That is best practice in terms of both ethics and the environment, supporting British business and protecting your data.