Founded in 2007, London-based company Wholegrain Digital focuses on making the digital and online world more sustainable. In 2018, they created the world’s first carbon emissions calculator for websites to try and fight the huge energy consumption other environmental impacts that websites have on our planet. They hope that the calculator can help raise awareness on the footprint of websites, and help companies lessen their emissions through building a more efficient online platform. The ultimate goal for the Certified B Corp company? To inspire a zero carbon internet revolution.
Started by husband and wife duo Tom and Vineeta Greenwood, Wholegrain Digital is a company that helps clients, ranging from businesses and large-scale organisations to charities, to identify how to create and achieve a sustainable website. A London WordPress agency, the company has worked with major organisations such as Ecover and UNICEF to design energy-efficient, sustainable, green websites. Since 2017, Wholegrain Digital became a B Corporation, a certification that holds companies up to socioeconomic performance standards, transparency and legal accountability to balance profits against its impact and purpose.
While it seems innocuous for many of us, the online world comes with a hefty carbon footprint. To put this into perspective, every single time someone loads a web page, an average of 6 grams of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. This is because the internet – from data transmission networks to the power devices need – uses up massive amounts of electricity, enough to compete with the entire United Kingdom’s electricity consumption each year. In total, the web accounts for as much as 2% of all global greenhouse gas emissions – and while this figure might seem meagre, it is equivalent to the emissions generated by the global aviation industry.
On a mission to alleviate the impact of the web, Wholegrain Digital decided to develop the world’s first carbon emissions calculator for websites, which is powered by renewable energy itself. Carbon Calculator works by piecing an estimate together through data collected from wire transfers, energy intensity of web data, the energy source used by the data centre, carbon intensity of electricity and website traffic. The data is sourced from reputable organisations such as Green Web Foundation (GWF) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).
What the calculator enables for developers, by simply showing the emissions generated by a particular website, is where improvements can be made. By designing websites more to become more efficient, such as faster loading speed, using renewable sources to host the data centre and setting up a page weight budget, websites can generate significantly lower carbon emissions.
For users, the calculator tool helps individuals understand how committed companies are to sustainability, and how they can reduce their web emissions by choosing online platforms that are more energy efficient. Wholegrain is hoping that this will work to inspire and educate a shift towards a “zero carbon internet”.
Lead image courtesy of B The Change / Wholegrain Digital.