Photo of wind turbines and a sunset

Web design and sustainability – let’s make it happen

Every activity has a carbon footprint, including your website.

Evaluating carbon emissions from hosting and viewing your website is one part of the sustainability puzzle that might not immediately spring to mind.

Sustainability is being talked about everywhere right now, and web design is no different. The UK hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (also known as COP26) in 2021 and we’re excited about the potential for real change. There’s never been a more pressing need to get to grips with the carbon emissions we produce.

So how can I ensure that my website isn’t part of the problem?

The good news is that a lot of the work you might already be doing will also help with sustainability.

Google has recently started putting more emphasis on page speed in its rankings. Core Web Vitals measure how quickly your web pages display and are ready for interaction.

So by optimising your site, you’re killing two birds with one stone. For example, speeding up your website by optimising the images and compressing the code will mean fewer carbon emissions are emitted to view it. Fingers crossed you’ll also get a minor boost for your search engine rankings.

What about my web host, are they sustainable?

Not all web hosts are equal, in terms of performance or environmental credentials. Ask your web host about their environmental policies. You can also check where your hosting is located, as the longer the distance data has to travel, the higher the emissions. If you locate your hosting near your target audience, this has the added bonus of making your website faster for them.

In addition, there is a tool in use which can increase speed for anyone in the world. It’s called a Content Delivery Network (CDN), and it distributes a copy of some of your site’s data in locations across the world. Wherever your users are, they get content from a local server. Storing many copies of your data around the world does involve some carbon emissions, but it would seem that cutting down the distance more than makes up for it.

COP26 Countdown logo
We’re keeping track of all the latest developments as we get nearer to the COP26 conference

Can’t I just offset my emissions?

Carbon offsetting is an essential part of the journey to net zero. Unfortunately it’s only for when we’ve reduced all the emissions we can. So whereas offsetting alone can help, it’s not a miracle cure. If you’re offsetting, look for a gold standard carbon offset project as these are likely to be the most effective.

How can I find out the carbon impact of my website?

The Website Carbon calculator is a good place to start. It can’t give a completely accurate picture but is improving all the time.

What are we doing at Pixelshrink Digital Impact?

A while ago we asked our hosting company whether about their environmental policies and were given short shrift. So we’ve just changed our hosting to a data centre that takes things a lot more seriously. Plus we’ve enjoyed a gain in performance too – green doesn’t have to mean slow!

We work with a lot of prestigious academic projects, so we were delighted to sign up for the Netpositive Supplier Engagement Tool, which allows us to track our progress.

We’ve also recently got a carbon literacy certificate from the Carbon Literacy Trust, and are proud to be part of the University of Derby’s Low Carbon Business Network.


So if you’re looking for more sustainability in your web design or hosting, contact us as it’s one of our priorities and we’d be delighted to go into more detail.

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