Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Earth Day Singapore

_DSC0215We just observed Earth Hour late last month. This month, we have another earthly event coming up. It’s Earth Day, and it’ll be celebrated next Tuesday on 22 April 2014. Earth Day is an annual event that has been celebrated since 1970. It aims to raise awareness and support for environmental protection. What are you doing for our Earth today?

Earth Day Network, which coordinates Earth Day events globally, will focus on their Green Cities Campaign this year and the next. They are calling on all of us to invest in efficient and renewable energy, rebuild our cities and towns, and begin to solve the climate crisis.

In relation to the Green Cities theme, I want to take this opportunity to share about green web hosting, and a little bit on green IT. Why does IT need to be concerned about environmental protection? There are many reasons, but let’s just talk about energy consumption here.

It may surprise you that the ICT (information, communication and technology) industry contributes to about 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to researches from the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications and Bell Labs (reported in NatureWorldNews). This is equivalent to the amount the aviation industry products. The 2% figure has also been reported as far back as in 2007, in a Gartner report. It is estimated that data centres alone contribute 23% of ICT’s share of carbon dioxide emissions

Clearly there’s a lot of room for improving energy efficiency in the data centres. They can also do more by switching to direct use of renewable energy sources. Few data centres directly run off renewable energy, either in part or in entirety. There are operational constraints and often tremendous costs involved.

The big boys, like Google, Facebook or Apple, have the scale (and muscle) to make renewable energy work in their data centres (Google, Facebook and Apple lead on green data centers). As consumers, we don’t have much direct say in how data centres are run. It’ll be nice to say that we can vote with our wallets.

But seriously, do we have viable alternatives to the big web services like, say, Google and Facebook? Luckily Google and Facebook are are doing their part, so we don’t have to worry about ditching them.

For those of us who buy web hosting services, there’s something we can do. Do you know if your web hosting provider is carbon neutral? If it isn’t, find one that is!

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Green hosting, or sometimes also called eco-friendly hosting, involves the use of green technologies to reduce environmental impact. Very often, green hosting companies don’t actually use directly use renewable energy, because it’s quite likely not very commercially viable for them.

However, there’s little reason why they shouldn’t at least try to neutralise their carbon footprint. Carbon offsetting is one of the things green hosting companies do to reduce, or neutralise, their carbon footprint. Companies can seek to achieve a carbon neutral position by:

  • Reducing their carbon emissions, by being more energy efficient, and by using renewable energy where possible.
  • For the remaining unavoidable carbon emissions, buy Renewable Energy Credits and Emission Reduction Credits.

By choosing to take your business to a company that is responsible toward our Earth, you do a small part toward building a sustainable future for our planet. Choosing a green hosting company is no longer as difficult as it used to be. There are a decent number to choose from, they offer relatively competitive price plans, and they are up-to-par in terms of services offered and operational standards.

Earlier this year, I shared about my switching to GreenGeeks. They are an example of an exceptional green hosting company, because they put back through wind energy credits three times of the power they draw from the utility grid. That’s like being 300% green. I wanted this ZitSeng.com blog site to be on IPv6. GreenGeeks, unfortunately, did not support IPv6 and they had no concrete road map for IPv6. I explored other hosting services before choosing to go with the current DreamHost.

DreamHost is has a pretty all round compelling offer. They are an eco-friendly hosting company, they support IPv6, and they provide shell access. Network bandwidth was reasonably good too. They offer unlimited everything plans. They don’t use CPanel, but instead develop their own control panel software. Some users may find this a negative point, because it means they may have to relearn some things.

I’m quite indifferent to the type control panel. It isn’t very difficult to figure your way around. DreamHost seems to be the kind of company for “techies”, the type of people who won’t be bothered by the lack of CPanel, and may in fact better appreciate DreamHost’s custom control panel solution. There is one thing against DreamHost though. Considering that many of the unlimited-everything web hosting plans are in the US$4/month price level, DreamHost’s US$8.95/month rate is comparatively pricey.

Thank goodness they have affiliate programs that allow discounts to be contributed back to the new customer. So, I’d like to make you this offer. If you’re thinking of changing web hosting companies, do consider DreamHost. During sign up, enter this promo code EARTHDAY2014 and receive the following promotional price plans:

  • US$47.40 for 1 year hosting (US$3.95 per month)
  • US$142.80 for 2 year hosting (US$5.95 per month)

DreamHost’s regular price is US$8.95 per month. This promo code is good only for new customer signups, until end of April 2014.

If you’re hosting somewhere that has not made a commitment toward greening our cities, take a step toward supporting a business that will do that. Doesn’t matter if it isn’t GreenGeeks of DreamHost. There are a good number of green hosting companies to choose from.

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