7 October 2021

How does the Greenpixie carbon calculator work?

The Greenpixie carbon calculator is a great introduction to digital sustainability, offering an instant estimation of any website’s carbon footprint. Read on to discover how it works.

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By Bridget Tiller
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Our carbon calculator is the first step on your journey towards a low carbon website.

Our tool provides an estimate of the carbon emissions of your website’s homepage per view and compares it to the average, allowing you to understand your contribution to the growing issue of digital carbon.

“But how exactly does it do this?”

Simply put, the calculator looks at how much data your website has to transfer and how efficiently it does this. From this we can work out its energy consumption and ultimately translate that into CO2 emissions.

Of course, there are lots of different ways to measure digital carbon and lots of different places where the line could be drawn when calculating the emissions of a single website. This is why you might notice slight differences between the results of Greenpixie’s calculator and other online calculators. Our aim is to provide the fastest, most comprehensive and most accurate calculator available.

Let’s break this down a bit more:

The first stage is to figure out how much data you’re transferring through your website.

To do this we have a look at what’s on your homepage — for example, are there high resolution pictures or large video files? How is the website built? And, other considerations relating to the design and functionality.

Basically, the more complicated and inefficient your homepage is, the more data you’re transferring.

After we’ve done this, we can then translate data transferred into kWh.

We can do this by estimating how much energy it takes to;

  • store your website on its host server
  • transfer the data back and forth across the internet’s vast telecoms network
  • and to display the result on an end user’s device

These estimations depend on knowing how much energy it takes to run these elements, for example the electricity used to run, cool, and maintain the servers which host your website.

Finally, we just need to figure out how much carbon this energy use translates to.

To do this, we use data from the National Grid to estimate how much CO2 is released per kWh of energy.

“My website is hosted by green servers, so none of this should be a problem for me!”

You’re partly right — if your website is hosted by renewable servers, there’s less carbon involved from your end, and so we account for this when converting your energy consumption to CO2 emissions.

However, this doesn’t solve the whole problem. We still have to consider the end-user display, which involves someone viewing your website and downloading it to their device. The transfer of the data across submarine cables and through telecommunications centres are also still a factor.

So there you go! This is how we arrive at our estimate of how much CO2 your website releases per hen you put your URL into our carbon calculator.

“Is it perfect?”

No. But this is a very useful tool — and we’re excited to be developing and learning all the time.

We’ve got immediate plans to factor more and more aspects of digital carbon into our calculator, while keeping it quick, free and accessible to all.