Just like web performance, there is no doubt that eco-design will be a prerequisite for all web projects in the years to come. The challenge now is to raise awareness and train all stakeholders: eco-design is a cross-functional approach within the company that reaches its full potential when applied consistently at all stages of the project.
Why eco-design is a must-do today
Reducing the environmental footprint of websites is becoming a priority. In recent years, the environmental impact of digital technology has been accurately measured and now represents 4% of global emissions, more than the total emissions caused by civil aviation. These emissions will account for 7% by the end of the next decade. Few sectors have such a significant growth dynamic.
These emissions are distributed as follows:
- 70% from terminal usage
- 15% from networks usage
- 15% from servers usage
The majority of emissions are not exclusively the responsibility of manufacturers. Digital players have a decisive impact as well. As all developers know, the weight of web pages continues to increase as technology evolves, both in terms of terminals and connection speeds. The median weight of a web page has gone from 500KB in 2012 to over 2MB today. However, the share of images in this total remains invariably the same: around 60%. If we don't impose a form of sobriety in web design, we will remain in a race for ever more powerful and efficient devices to display ever heavier and more complex content.
Over the last few years, as publications have come out, a direct correlation between data and carbon footprint has begun to emerge. Today, experts are starting to agree on figures and they are far from negligible. A website that generates 1 million page views per month can easily produce over 5 TCO2e per year. This awareness combined with the global emergency situation we are experiencing makes eco-design an essential issue for digital actors.
The subject is not new. It started in the early '90s in the United States with the Energy Star movement - eco-design of software. But what is changing today is the willingness of all companies to integrate impact issues into their vision and strategy. In view of the considerable increase in the share of digital technology in electricity and energy consumption, digital agencies are following suit by integrating eco-design into their service offering. SaaS solutions are emerging to meet these new challenges. A regulatory framework is beginning to take shape.
As a sign that this awareness is spreading to the corporate world, in 2021 we began to be approached by several clients, including L'Oréal Finance, to use TwicPics to support their eco-design approach. Today, while business indicators remain the number one topic of attention in our field, the carbon footprint is becoming a concern for many companies.
Measuring and limiting web emissions in an eco-design logic
In the past two years, the carbon footprint has become a real concern in the digital world. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to measure its impact. Actors such as the French Institut du Numérique Responsable are producing more and more studies on the subject and aggregating data. But the complexity lies in calculating emissions. This problem is addressed by Greenmetrics. This SaaS platform measures and analyzes the environmental impact of digital activities of companies and suggests concrete actions to reduce their digital carbon footprint. Reducing the weight of media delivered is one such lever.
As for brands, they are starting to take into account the impact of their website and wish to communicate publicly about their score in terms of eco-design. By looking for efficiency in content delivery and optimizing customer journeys, it is possible to reduce the environmental footprint of a website. End-users, Internet users, reach their goals faster and consume fewer resources during their navigation.
TwicPics' approach combines performance and eco-design. Struggle for more sustainable web development practices has been a core mission of TwicPics since the company's creation - back in 2018, when eco-design was not yet at the heart of the debate. The solution innovation lies in its ability to optimize and adapt the media automatically to the user's context and the web page's design. All the images and videos delivered by TwicPics are "pixel-perfect" whatever the sites and the users' terminals. In the end, this guarantees the best visual quality, the best performance, and also the guarantee of not delivering too many bytes. As a result, TwicPics can halve the weight of pages and reduce the carbon footprint of its customers by 27% on average. Over 2021, 2400 TCO2e were saved. The equivalent of +22,000,000 km in a diesel car, i.e. almost 545 round-the-world trips! (see Greenmetrics study, September 2022).