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A Sustainable Design Blog

Water Saving in Web Design

Think websites and data don’t use water? Think again. Waste is usually associated with tangible things, but the data cloud is not as intangible as we think. In fact large data farms like Amazon’s blow through an estimated 360,000 gallons of water a day just to keep things cool.

Most people know that server farms are energy hogs and therefore it's important to look for a hosting company that uses renewable energy to power its operations. However, those data centers are filled with running computers that emit tons of heat, and in order to keep them running efficiently (ie, keeping your website online and your data accessible), they need to be cooled. The most efficient way to do this is by piping in cool water.

Some of the big boys like Microsoft and Google are proactively creating solutions to these issues by using grey water and/or installing onsite water recycling centers that remove the sludge after it's been pipped through (yes, data centers create sludge), cool the water, and then cycle it back through the facility.

While it's near impossible to find out who is using water efficiently and who is not since companies are not required to disclose this data (though there are rumors that carbon disclosure is on the horizon), it never hurts to ask. Finding a hosting company that is using renewable energy is a great place to start. Since it's evident that they care about the environment already, they are more likely to take these issues into account and come back with an honest answer. Even if you can't find a host you like who is using efficient water methods, asking the question shows that there are consumers out there that care about these things, and will reward those companies that do something about it.

Jennifer Stewart is the Office Manager and wanna-be organizational psychologist at Modern Species. For more posts from her, click here.

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