Can CSS Help Save The Planet?

With the advent of CSS three, web designers now have some incredible tools at their disposal compared to just a few years ago.

These new tools may well help to combat just a little bit of the carbon footprint we leave behind.  Features of CSS 3, including gradients and rounded corners could just save tons of bandwidth.  Consider a website that uses rounded corners for all of its content areas and images for all of its gradients.

What may seem small changes to a webpage could over time, have dramatic impact on the amount of power being used by Web servers globally.  I don’t know what the figures are the amount of electricity being used by Web servers globally, but I’ll bet the number of web servers is growing at an incredible rate daily as the number of websites all over the world explodes.  If we reduce the size of webpages just buy a few kilobytes this can have a huge effect

multiply those few kilobytes by thousands of users visiting webpages over a year and multiply that by the number of websites in the UK alone.  If you then expand those figures globally and take into consideration, not just the web servers, but the data centres and telecommunication backbones, which feed the information to our PCs and laptops, which in turn, consume more power to view online information.  Heck, even my router is probably chewing up more power just downloading simple webpages.  Feel the hot air blowing out of the back of your PC, or from the top of your flat screen monitor.  Now imagine the heat from rack upon rack of servers in a data warehouse…

I’ve read recently about a data centre that is looking to utilise some new web server technology.  Although previously the emphasis has been on having a lot of redundancy to cope with peaks and profs in demand for webpages, now the focus seems to be shifting to try to optimise power usage a little.   I was speaking to a chap recently who told me of a deployment his company had carried out for a medium sized UK business.  They reduced the number of servers the company had from 20/30….to 2.

Yep, sounds extroadinary, but following the move from Mainframe, to Client-Server based models in the past, we now have another shift – the cloud.  Optimisation and virtualisation seem to be some key concepts here, and can obviously lead to massive savings both in carbon*, and in redundant hardware.

*disclaimer: I live in Bournemouth, therefore I have a pretty good reason for wanting to keep CO2 levels down – along with sea levels…. ;-)

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