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Learning more about sustainable web design

Joseph Race, March 15, 2021

How familiar are you with sustainable web design? Here are Lightful, we are currently working on a redesign of our website so we wanted to find out more about sustainable design and what this means for us.

Defining ‘sustainable web design’

Sustainable web design is an approach to designing and building the web that is principally concerned with reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption by the web products we build. It is part of a wider consideration of how we use and work with digital technologies in a way that is better for people and the planet.

Despite working as a web developer for over a decade, it is only in the last year that I became aware of the idea of “sustainable web design” and started to think about applying it to my work.

The internet may not have an obvious, visible impact on the planet but every email sent, web page visited, photo uploaded or video streamed requires energy.

Energy is consumed by data centres where the increasing amounts of data we produce are stored, through networks that transfer this data around the world, and at home on our personal devices.

This is in addition to the energy and resources required in the manufacturing process of the devices themselves and the subsequent e-waste they produce at the end of their short life cycles.

There is a lot of scope for doing things better

According to Mozilla’s Internet Health Report 2018, the internet’s data centres may already have the same CO2 footprint as global air travel and global communications technologies are predicted to be responsible for more carbon emissions than any country except China, India and the United States by 2025.

Approximately 51% of the world’s population is now using the internet, with video streaming making up the largest portion of internet traffic. YouTube accounted for 15% of global traffic during the stay-at-home orders of the past year and Netflix took 11%. According to the 2017 Greenpeace ClickClean report, Netflix is also one of the least green, with few of the data centres they use being powered by renewable energy.

Read the full article and try the Website Carbon Calculator by visiting Learning more about sustainable web design - Lightful.