Reducing the carbon footprint of one million websites

carbon footprint

Reducing the carbon footprint of websites and IT systems is the latest initiative of content management system company Umbraco.

The company, the largest open-source .Net CMS in the world, is supported by more than 250,000 software contributors, implemented by 1,500 digital agency partners and used to develop more than a million websites. It is among the top three CMS platforms used by UK local authorities. As such, the company is committed to leading positive net zero change in the CMS industry.

The Umbraco Impact Report 2022 details how the company is tackling some of the common challenges facing the IT industry, including sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

“We’re taking a comprehensive look at our operations to ensure that they align with the UN Global Compact, which calls on companies to adopt universal principles that treat people and the planet well and make a positive impact on society as a whole,” explains Umbraco, CEO, Kim Sneum-Madsen.

“We are blessed with a highly-engaged global community of developers and digital agency partners, backed by a commercial operation that ensures that software is safely maintained. We know that our people, whether they be employees, developers, partners, or end-users, are core to our success and we want them to feel included, supported and rewarded. At the same time, we need to ensure that Umbraco software is used in a sustainable way that actively reduces CO2, or compensates for emissions.”

Reducing IT CO2 emissions

Umbraco began calculating its carbon footprint in 2022 and now has a tool and methodology allowing the company to identify the greatest emission sources. Hosting Umbraco Cloud and HeartCore projects represents more than 50 per cent of Umbraco’s estimated 1,100 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent. Owing to Microsoft’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality, websites that have been migrated to the new .NET versions of Umbraco have seen least a 50 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.

The company’s second largest source of CO2 emissions is business travel, specifically flights and is working to reduce this through more sustainable business practices, including meeting online wherever possible.

As part of its journey to becoming carbon neutral, Umbraco has sponsored 30 verified carbon avoidance projects through Ecologi and funded the planting of 19,122 trees. The company headquarters switched to renewable energy and installed water dispensers to discourage the use of single-use plastic bottles, and waste is sorted to encourage recycling. The company also examines the carbon footprint of existing and new suppliers.

The company has just launched its Sustainability Team, who will promote awareness of best practices and open-source tools for designing low-carbon and carbon-aware websites. Umbraco CMS product lead, Lasse Fredslund, observes, “Building eco-friendly websites usually means that they’re performing more efficiently, and loading faster, which is also better for user experience, sales conversions and business.”

Commenting on the company’s first Impact report, Umbraco CEO, Kim Sneum-Madsen, says, “We have always measured Umbraco’s success using broader metrics than financial performance, now we have made it a formal, annual commitment. We want to know whether we’re delivering on our mission of making it easy for anyone to create online experiences, helping our partners to serve their clients and enabling companies to create flexible, sustainable digital experience platforms. At the same time, we want to know that we’re creating a friendly, inclusive environment for our colleagues to contribute and develop to their full potential. Looking broader still, we know that we must ensure that our activities are carried out in a sustainable way that minimises our impact on the planet.”

Diversity and inclusion

Open-source software promotes the inclusion of under-represented groups in the IT industry because it enables anyone to contribute to the core CMS, regardless of gender, ethnicity, learning differences or socio-economic status.

Umbraco has established a Female Mentoring Programme, in partnership with the University College of Odense, with clear career paths and leadership training. 2022 saw the formation of the Umbraco Accessibility Team of volunteers, who raise awareness of ways to make Umbraco websites more inclusive for end-users who are blind, deaf, have learning differences, or limited mobility. The team are working to ensure that the Umbraco back-office meets WAI Level AA accessibility criteria.

Chief Operating Officer Javier Miranda concludes: “Up to two billion people have difficulty using websites that are not designed with accessibility in mind. Designing accessible sites is good for society and businesses. Nucleus Research figures indicate that eCommerce organisations that make sites easier for blind people to use are winning $6.9 billion of business a year from competitors that haven’t invested in making their sites accessible and inclusive.”

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