Going Green(er)

I have not blogged in a very long time.  Many reasons including role changes and capacity.  So this website just sat here collecting dust.

Then, after thinking about how I could start sharing my journey in green software engineering, and not only talk about it, but take steps to make the blog go from producing high CO2 emissions per visit and reducing these as much as possible, and share that journey.  So while not all the posts here will be about the blog going green, there will be some along the way.

The website was dirtier than 84% of web pages tested and produced 1.46g of CO2 every visit

Wow.  There are a few things I can change here immediately – the first is to reduce the website page weight as I knew this could easily influence the CO2 emissions, and next I’d look at the page requests, since each request also causes overhead. 

But – I wasn’t aware of the page weight of the site, or the WordPress theme.  It was daunting to realise that I had put together something with zero consideration for the carbon impact. 

While selecting a green host could reduce my emissions by 9%, and it would definitely be something I would look towards in the future, I felt that there were probably much bigger savings in the page weight alone, so I decided to start there. 

The old heavy CO2 generating site

For reference the site previously looked like the image above.  It was visually heavy, images, animations, the top left image was an animated gif of significant file size.  The work I was doing previously was often very visual, so the theme made sense then, but now it didn’t.  And it was pumping out CO2 at an alarming rate per visit.  Time for a change.

Since it was hosted on WordPress, I could quickly go in and look at some themes I could test out.  I looked for the most minimal theme in the list.  I found a theme called “Remote” that looked good enough.  I set the theme, and low and behold …

The new simpler website template on the left, and a top 3% of sites result, with only 0.03g of CO2 per visit

This theme had no images on the home page as shown above (just in case I change it again, which I will), and it was obvious that page weight was heavily influencing the CO2 emissions. 

In short, I just reduced the sites emissions produce less CO2 than 97% of pages.   And more importantly reduced the emissions from 1.42g to 0.03g per visit … a reduction of 98%! 

OK.  I’m happy with this so far.  I then wanted to check the weight of the content pages of the blog, to see if I would get varying results…

Varying results, top 58% or top 12% depending on page content for posts

.. and I did.  When reviewing the specific content, this was influenced primarily by images in the posts.  In some posts with large images, the compression was not great, and the file size is producing high CO2 impact.  There was absolutely no reason for these images to be so big other than vanity.

Some other changes I made albiet heavily related to each other are:

  • Deleted old posts – legacy content is great for legacy reasons, but technical content that is old gets indexed, people browse it, and it’s just waste piling up, so I removed it. Plus now the site has focus, the content is more relevant, and people looking for the content won’t waste time finding less relevant content first.
  • Deleted all the associated files – that being, REALLY delete the posts.. deleting posts doesn’t actually get rid of all the files and data, so purging them completely is needed. So while they wouldn’t be indexed, they are still chewing up storage which in turn produces carbon.

Time to revisit some other posts and reduce the file size and use it as a proxy for measurement.  But that’s a time for another post.  For now, I can rest knowing the emissions are significantly reduced.

And for reference, this page is greener than 85% of web pages.


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