Unveiling the carbon footprint of your website

Published Dec 23, 2010

KTH researcher Jorge Zapico has developed an application which can calculate the carbon footprint of individual websites. The application is called Greenalytics and matches web statistics with environmental data. It turns out that the KTH website produces seven tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

”With Greenalytics we are introducing an environmental approach to websites,” says Jorge Zapico, a researcher at KTH’s Centre for Sustainable Communications, CESC.

His application reveals how much emissions the infrastructure behind a website generates. Electricity consumption from servers, routers, and from users, i.e. those who surf on to a website, affects the climate, especially in countries that use a lot of coal in the production of electricity.

According to Greenalytics, KTH’s website, which is among the top 100 sites in Sweden, produces seven tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. It corresponds to a climate impact of 40 000 kilometres by car or 70 hours of air travel.

Greenalytics is a so-called mashup, which compiles information from various sources and calculates a result in real time. It uses statistics from Google Analytics, one of the world’s most widely used analysis tools that measures how many visitors a site has and the current environmental data from research carried out by KTH.

”In my research, I want to illustrate the options available when databases are opened up and provide data in a standardized format, which in turn can be linked to environmental data. If you are aware of the climate impact a product has, you can also reduce it,” says Jorge Zapico.

Jorge Zapico finally provides us with some tips on how to reduce a website’s climate emissions. ”The electricity source for the server is the most important factor that can easily be influenced. Choose a server located in a country with a climate-friendly mix of electricity sources such as Sweden. If the server is powered by electricity from renewable sources, it is even better. It is also important to build light websites that do not need to load heavy content.

The text above is a translation of the Swedish press release published December 9, 2010.

For more information, contact the Centre for Sustainable Communications, Bernhard Huber (Communications Officer) at 08-790 64 52 or huber@kth.se.

Links

Greenalytics (Website)

Greenalytics: A tool for mash-up life cycle assessment of websites (Article)

Persuasive services (Research project at CESC)

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