Ever considered the carbon footprint of a website? Heap Media Australia – the people behind Blackle.com, clearly have and are now encouraging more of us to do the same…

They are providing an alternate search homepage, powered by Google Custom Search, which displays its results using a black background rather than Google’s traditional white. As some monitors require less energy to display black pixels than they do for white ones, Blackle hopes to help lower the carbon footprint of our everyday Google use. The folks at Blackle calculate that the site has saved over half a million Watt hours already, since its launch in January 2007, and also done much to raise the profile of green computing.

Despite some controversy regarding the specifics of how this energy is saved; not all monitors use less energy for Blackle – some sizes of LCD monitor actually use more power to display the black pixels (while CRT monitors will consistently save energy), Blackle is providing a valuable service. In reality though its energy saving is not as considerable as Heap Media initially claimed, they are playing an important part in raising awareness and reminding us to factor such concerns into modern web design. Poorly designed pages are not only slower and harder to use, but also require more power (the Wikipedia homepage for example unnecessarily requires 13 images to be fetched over the network each time it is loaded, – as identified by Steve Saunders in his book ‘High Performance Websites’). Hardware and software companies are increasingly focused on contributing to a greener computing future, and it is also time for all web developers to accept this aspect of their work as an industry standard component of delivering modern websites. It might not currently be as big an issue as air travel or energy generation in terms of environmental impact, but nonetheless it is crucial that such a modern and forward thinking industry does its part in taking the challenge seriously.

Dejan Levi