Carbon Offsetting Versus True Green Hosting

It can be quite tricky when attempting to determine the difference between a web hosting company that touts itself as being 100% eco-friendly and a web hosting company that offers true green hosting.  What is the difference?  One purchases carbon offset credits in the equivalent of what they produce in carbon emissions while the other uses renewable energy sources to power their equipment, data centers and offices.

The eco-friendly group

One of the easiest ways for a web hosting company to proclaim its self as an ecologically friendly hosting company is by carbon offsetting.  Carbon offsetting can be done in several ways: reforestation efforts, purchase of carbon credits in the amount equivalent to one’s carbon emissions, or even the purchase of green tags (also known as Renewable Energy Certificates).

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There are several web hosting companies online that currently participate in a larger reforestation effort.  The damage caused by wildfires each summer has a devastating yearly effect on the world’s eco-system.  Hosting companies like – for every new hosting plan started, this company will plant one tree for every month a customer hosts with them.

Many more web hosting companies are opting to go the route of purchasing carbon credits.  The purpose of carbon offsetting is as a financial way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Web hosting companies that participate in this practice find out how much in emissions they produce yearly and then, at a minimum, purchase carbon credits in an amount equal to their production.  These carbon credits then go to projects that are working toward creating cleaner energy sources.

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Green tags, or Renewable Energy Certificates, are (according to Wikipedia) “tradable, non-tangible energy commodities” that show that 1 Mwh of electricity was generated from a renewable energy resource.  This renewable energy resource needs to be of a qualifying technology – solar, wind, geothermal, low impact hydropower, biofuels or fuel cells.

The green group

The number of web hosting companies either starting out or converting to green hosting is growing each day.  One needs to do a bit of research first to determine which are actually using green technology for their web hosting services.

Those hosting companies that are actually using green technology will proudly proclaim this on the front page of their web sites.  ThinkHost is one of these companies.  This web hosting company is powered 100% by wind and solar power.  AISO.Net is another truly green web hosting company powered by solar energy and that also uses wind and water to further maximize their total “greenness”.  Another great green web hosting company is Solar Energy Host – powered entirely by the sun.

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The terms eco-friendly and green are easily tossed about by many web hosting companies these days.  While all of these companies are doing their part to give back to the environment, it’s important to realize the difference between the two terms.

If one is looking to place their business with a truly green web hosting company, it’s imperative to dig a bit deeper into the web hosting company’s claims and ensure that green technology is actually being used.

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