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Summary:

You can thank this blog post for even more carbon emissions in the atmosphere. That’s because web hosting is largely powered by fossil fuel power plants and computers run on electricity. To help bring a little carbon transparency to web sites, including those in our good […]

You can thank this blog post for even more carbon emissions in the atmosphere. That’s because web hosting is largely powered by fossil fuel power plants and computers run on electricity. To help bring a little carbon transparency to web sites, including those in our good ol’ blogosphere, two student entrepreneurs — Alex Wissner-Gross at Harvard and Tim Sullivan at Yale — have developed the CO2 Stats Project, a widget that tracks visitors to web sites, calculates the sites’ carbon emissions and offsets the lot. Wissner-Gross and Sullivan tell us that their widget, launched at the end of October, has grown to more than 1 million unique visitors viewing it each month across about 700 sites.

While those 1 million uniques are coming off the back of the web sites, getting 700 sites to sign up is pretty impressive, and Wissner-Gross and Sullivan say the reach of their widget is growing at 2 percent a day. The widget itself is very simple — it tracks visitors and the corresponding electricity usage, and doesn’t take into consideration if the electricity is powered by renewable sources. The business model itself is more interesting.

It’s free for any web site to embed the code and have its visitors feel better about their carbon-emitting web use. The project aims to pay for the offsets by signing up advertisers. While the team doesn’t currently have any advertisers signed up, they say they are in talks with several. Right now they are spending thousands of their own dollars on offsetting through Sustainable Travel International.

The entrepreneurs think that the growth in green-themed advertising and marketing will soon fill in for their own pocketbook. As Wissner-Gross puts it: “Companies are spending millions every year to advertise their eco-friendliness, why not put that towards making a difference?” Spoken like a true, savvy green marketing exec.

While the CO2 Stats Project is getting some traction on the interwebs, there are other entrepreneurs out there with similar goals in mind. Greenbook, an application on Facebook, uses sponsorship funds to purchase CO2 offsets, and then doles those out in fractional amounts to anyone who’s added the app. Greenbook has 640,000 installs and is betting that the group mentality can provoke personal offsets.

Other companies are trying to get web site builders to spend a premium on web hosting services powered by renewables; AISO and startup GreenestHost are just two names in this growing market. Taken together, there are lots of options for those of us looking out from behind our computer screens for ways to make the Internet a little greener.

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  1. dotservant.com website hosting Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    With the increasing awareness of the global warming issue, this year is going to be a year with lots of business opportunities for environmental friendly product and services. It is a good sign to see that awareness spreading to the online communities.

  2. Carbon Widget Reaches 1 Million | Katie Fehrenbacher | Voices | AllThingsD Thursday, January 17, 2008

    [...] Read the rest of this post Print Sphere Comment Tagged: carbon emissions, Katie Fehrenbacher, widget, Earth2Tech, Voices | permalink [...]

  3. Cool widget, if you really want to make an impact, ad viral marketing to the widget. The easiest way to implement it is via Clearspring’s Launchpad. Check out their site, registration is free.

  4. empowured.net » Green Widget with a CO2 offset? Friday, January 25, 2008

    [...] In a related article from earth2tech.com [...]

  5. Green energy is definitely the best solution in most cases. Technology like solar energy, wind power, fuel cells, zaps electric vehicles, EV hybrids, etc have come so far recently. Green energy even costs way less than oil and gas in many cases.

  6. Earth Day Vids: Not Just for Hippies « NewTeeVee Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    [...] unite to try and save this rock we all live on. So if you don’t have the dough to purchase carbon offsets, the least you can do is watch these videos (they’re free) to learn how you can do your part [...]

  7. Use the Web to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint « Going Green @ Your Library Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    [...] Terrapass (determine lowest carbon emission when flying); GreenestHost (green data hosting); or a Carbon Widget to add to your Web site. [...]

  8. Green Printer Blog » Three widgets to measure and help your ’sustainability bottom line’ Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    [...] web sites, calculates the sites’ carbon emissions and offsets the lot. Launched in October 2007, Earth2Tech states that this little widget has grown to more than 1 million unique visitors. You can sign up or [...]

  9. Three widgets to measure and help your ’sustainability bottom line’ : Save a Tree – Print Green – Green Options Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    [...] web sites, calculates the sites’ carbon emissions and offsets the lot. Launched in October 2007, Earth2Tech states that this little widget has grown to more than 1 million unique visitors. You can sign up or [...]

  10. Google Searches Are Power Hogs « Earth2Tech Monday, January 12, 2009

    [...] resulting in substantial CO2 emissions per search query, Harvard PhD student Alex Wissner-Gross, creator of CO2Stats tells the London Times. How much is a lot? An average search on the Google emits 7 grams of CO2 [...]

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