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The ecological impact of websites

The time is ripe for upheaval and ecological awareness, yet there is one sector that still cares little about its impact: the Internet. And yet, its consumption is increasing at a dizzying pace and its ecological impact is very real. According to the researcher Gerhard Fettweis, it will reach in 2030 the world consumption of 2008 all sectors combined, becoming the first global source of pollution.


Éco-conception web
Published on 10 April 2020, updated on 16 June 2022

Today, it seems impossible to do without using the Internet on a daily basis, as it offers so many possibilities in terms of knowledge and entertainment to the whole world; But recently, more and more voices are being raised to denounce the impact of the Internet on the environment. According to this video from Brut (French content) if the Internet were a state, it would be the 6th most polluting country in the world, a polluter comparable to global air traffic in terms of impact.

Why does using the Internet pollute?

Every action taken on the web emits a carbon footprint: visiting a website, watching a video, sending an email: these seemingly inconsequential actions are not; The display of a web page, for example, requires a chain reaction: for the browser to display the page and all its elements (text, images, fonts, interaction scripts ...), it will make a number of requests to a server that has these elements and will serve them in return.

Each request requires energy to be made, so electricity, and this is what generates CO2. The more complex a web page is and the more requests it requires and the use of heavy elements (large images, video content, complex scripts ...), the higher its carbon emission. However, the power of the bandwidth of Internet connections is constantly increasing, allowing over time the realization of more complex and heavy platforms.

A researcher from Harvard, Alex Wissner-Gross, studied the average emission of a site and came up with a figure of 20g of CO2 per second. Multiply that by the number of Internet users and the amount of time spent on sites per day, and you quickly get astronomical figures.

Servers and datacenters

Each request sent is processed by servers, consuming large amounts of energy.

A server is like a supercomputer, so it needs electricity to run and emits heat when in use.

These servers run 24 hours a day and are located in large datacenters, which must be cooled continuously to maintain a temperature that allows the servers to operate optimally.

It is so energy intensive that many projects are being set up to put data centers in the Arctic, and cool the servers naturally.

One of the solutions: eco-design web

Fortunately, as in many areas, we have, together, the ability to act to limit the environmental damage of web consumption.

That passes, of course, by a more conscious and responsible consumption of each one and the adoption of good gestures (we prepare you an article on the subject :) ), but also by the eco-conception of the Web sites.

Indeed, depending on the way it is designed, the emission of a site can change completely. This is achieved throughgood-practices to be adopted as soon as the graphical design is done, but also and especially during the development: in the end, less requests and lighter elements for a lesser impact. This obviously does not mean designing ultra-simple or ugly sites, but it is a philosophy to be adopted throughout the construction of the site.

For example, the Advency site you are on has been reworked following these practices and its carbon emission has been divided by 8! We have been able to verify this by measuring the carbon impact of our web pages

Everyone must take its responsibility in the fight against climate change and the preservation of the environment. Advency is therefore doing its part, by proposing now the design of sites and applications eco-designed and accompanying you in this process.


Portrait de Nagège qui fixe l'objectif devant une mare avec des nénuphars
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