Mike Harley, Ellen Davies and Hannah Smith – Freelance Web Developer and Speaker. Hannah’s topic at Green Tec have recently launched Green Tech South-West, a meetup group and community. Our purpose is to provide expert insight and thought-provoking discussions on how technology is aiming to help preserve our environment and battle the massive and urgent issue of climate change.
As part of this, please meet one of our most recent speakers (and co-founder of GreenTech SW) Hannah Smith – Freelance Web Developer and Speaker. Hannah’s topic at Green Tech South West was all about ‘tools she uses to measure the carbon footprint through building websites.’ Here, our chat with her about it.
GTSW: For some background, how are you involved within the GreenTech space?
My day job is as a freelance WordPress developer and in Summer 2019 I heard a few talks about how a better performing web can help to reduce carbon emissions. A light bulb went off inside my head.
Since then I’ve been on a mission to learn more about the topic and also share that knowledge as widely as possible. This topic, the carbon emissions associated with the internet, is still a fringe concern for many and given the state of our climate, I think it should be front and centre of everything we’re doing, especially for those working in tech.
I’ve also joined Mike and Ellen to help co-organise the Green Tech South West meet-up. I realised, independently to Mike and Ellen, that there wasn’t a tech community focusing in on this topic in the region and there definitely should be, given how green and techy Bristol is! We found each other through the wonders of the internet and are working together to make Green Tech South West the best it can be. I am so excited to see how this community can help tech people in the region, and hopefully further afield, come together and tackle climate change.
GTSW: What are the key takeaways you’re hoping that attendees took from your talk on ‘measuring and reducing the carbon footprint of websites that you build?’
Hannah: What’s interesting about giving this talk is that the audience is always in different places with this stuff.
For some people, just realising there are significant carbon emissions associated with tech and the internet will be a new idea for them to consider. The importance of running your home/office on renewable energy and making sure your hosting provider does the same will be their key takeaway. The Green Web Foundation is an excellent resource for finding green hosts.
For others, they may have some awareness of the subject but didn’t know where to start in measuring and making reductions on the actual tech they are building. For websites, the Website Carbon Calculator is a great starting point for those making their first steps into measuring a website’s emissions.
For those further along looking at how to reduce a website’s page weight (the amount of KB downloaded to view a page) you can start to get very technical and take inspiration from a lot of techniques used for site performance and speed optimisations.
GTSW: And finally, is there one piece of wisdom that you could pass on to those who are also looking to contribute to the Green Tech industry?
Hannah: My advice is don’t expect technology itself to hold all the answers to solving climate change. The biggest way we can make a difference is how we behave as humans, both professionally and at home. For example, we can make a difference by being careful about the companies we choose to lend our tech skills to, how we design and create content, the lifestyles we have and the food we choose to eat etc.
If you’re interested in discussing more of these with a like-minded community, check out Climate Action Tech, an online global community of more than 2,000 people working in tech and doing their bit on climate change.
Thanks for sharing, Hannah!