Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Powerful New Tool Analyzes Website Sustainability

Mightybytes is a Chicago-based company that is working to help green the digital space. They are pioneers in the often overlooked area of digital sustainability. They have launched a free innovative web-based app called EcoGrader that helps companies to assess and improve the carbon footprints of their websites.

As a certified B Corporation and a three-star certified Eco-Andersonville green business, Mightybytes has sustainability woven into their DNA. They embrace an imperative for sustainability and apply that passion to their work, their office environment, and their personal lives. They are committed to making a social impact with their work and they are equally passionate about environmental stewardship.

Mightybytes helps organizations to solve communication, design, and technical problems, build online brands, create software-based business solutions, nurture and support customer communities, reach new targeted audiences and develop digital products that meet specific marketing goals.

While Mightybytes  helps organizations of all types, they tend to work with clients who share their ideals and commitment to making the world a better place.

According to the presentation “Quality and Social Responsibility: Achieving Sustainable Results,” between 60 and 70 percent of consumers expect companies to be responsible and two-thirds of consumers say that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations.” Companies are responding to consumer demands by getting increasingly serious about sustainability. The Social Science Research Network reports that 60 percent of American executives think their social responsibility strategies resulted in improved corporate reputation which they see as a business benefit.

For most CSR-conscious companies, improving sustainability begins in the physical space with initiatives like recycling programs and eco-friendly sourcing of materials. However, it is far less common for companies to examine and improve their online environmental impact. This represents an important opportunity as many leading web sites are both inefficient and unsustainable.

Most people think the web is a green medium, but the average website has a carbon footprint that is similar a book or a newspaper. Today many webpages have a carbon footprint which exceeds that of a printed page, especially if the web page is left open for long periods of time, such as when reading blog posts or watching movies. Even more surprising is the fact that 9 percent of the total US energy usage goes toward powering the internet.

According to a recent report in the New York Times, data centers in the US use 10 billion watts of electricity per year and much of that energy comes from sources that are neither renewable nor clean.  As explained by Mightybytes, roughly 50 million computer servers are responsible for nearly 5 percent of the earth’s greenhouse gases.

On Earth Day (April 22, 2013) MightyBytes launched EcoGrader, a powerful free tool that enables users to assess a website's level of sustainability. This new web based app not only helps businesses by rating a site's energy efficiency, it also provides quick and easy ways to minimize the carbon footprint and improve the site.

Using EcoGrader could not be easier, all the user has to do is plug in a URL, the app then runs an analysis that grades the site on a score from 0-100 based on a site's sustainability in the following four areas:

1. Green hosting is assessed based on a provider that is powered by renewable energy or associated renewable energy credits (RECs).

2. Findability scoring is based on the amount of time that user spends looking for the information that he or she needs on a website. (The less time a user has to search for the information that they are looking for, the less energy is required to deliver that content).

3. Design and user experience ranking is grounded in mobile optimizations and the use of HTML 5 and CSS 3 instead of Flash. (When data-heavy assets weigh down a site, more energy is required to bring up the site).

4. Performance scores depend on page load times and the number of files and server requests required for each page to load.

Scores in each area are aggregated for a composite grade between 0 and 100.  Not only does EcoGrader provide scores that assess a website's level of sustainability, it provides quick and easy tips that help users to address weaknesses in their sites.

In addition to EcoGrader, Mightybytes also offers a cornucopia of information on sustainable web design. Their Sustainable Web Design blog post series examines what you can do to save energy while browsing the web and how to optimize images for speed and sustainability.

As the business world embraces sustainability, EcoGrader is a powerful tool that is destined to become the focus of considerable attention.

To get a free assessment of your website click here.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Related Articles
Dirty Digital Footprints: An Exposé of “Green” Websites
Energy Management Tips for IT
IT Sector Should Leverage Their Supply Chains
Green IT Investment and Regulation
HP's Sustainable Innovation Serves the Planet and Profits
Environmental Revolution: Technology Certification

No comments: