Does building eco-conscious websites really make a difference?

a collage image of a hand holding a light bulb with a sprouting plant inside it. Pasifika motifs decorate the image.

Recycling one tin can, planting a lone native tree, commuting by bus once, and building a single website with an eco-conscious approach – none of these actions in isolation are going to make much of a difference.

But all these positive actions have a cumulative effect if they’re picked up by many and repeated consistently.

With that said, let’s pick up why building eco-conscious websites matter, how we do this at Two Sparrows, and end on a high with a real-life example of these principles in action.

“We have a responsibility to stop this madness” – Danny Van Kooten.

Maya Angelou wrote: “We need much less than we think we need.” This sentiment holds as true for websites as it does for clothes, cars, furniture, and living space.

Websites are becoming super-sized (the average website quadrupled in size between 2010 and 2020) wolfing through more power, water, and physical space than ever before.

In a 2020 blog, Danny van Kooten states:

“According to, the average website on desktop is about four times as large as in 2010. On mobile, where data transfer is way more expensive in terms of energy usage, the numbers look even worse: from 200 kB up to a whopping 1.9 MB!”

It can be easy to shrug off the physical impact of these decisions. Later in the same blog, Danny helpfully points out the CO2 comparisons, making it harder to ignore the scale of the challenge and opportunity:

“Shaving off a single kilobyte in a file that is being loaded on 2 million websites reduces CO2 emissions by an estimated 2950 kg per month…the same amount of CO2 saved each month as:

  • Five flights from Amsterdam to New York. (679 kg CO2 per flight)
  • Eating 118 kg of beef (25 kg CO2 per kg of beef)”

How do we build websites with a lighter carbon footprint?

The good news is we don’t have to guess how to build and design more energy-efficient websites. There are many who have already laid out the guidelines – ranging from colour choices to animation, text and responsive design – of note, ‘Sustainable Web Design’ by Tom Greenwood and Hanna Jansson’s Figma SCOPES resource are good places to start.

As well as being inspired by these guidelines, below are five key areas we focus on with each website build.

1. Be a responsible host

Many of our websites are hosted with New Zealand company SiteHost, whose data centre is based in Auckland. Eventually, ALL our websites will be hosted here. We love their environmentally friendly approach to their infrastructure:

“Our roof is covered in solar panels, which are a big part of our energy mix. On a sunny summer’s day our 142kWp system is big enough for us to run almost entirely off-grid. On top of that, our solar installation offsets around 24,000 tonnes of carbon each year.”

2. Pay attention to detail

We know plenty of tips and tricks to shave off load size of website assets, like images and code. It’s the attention to detail that can add up to make a difference. And you don’t have to compromise on functionality. In fact, you’ll more likely experience an uptick in performance.

3. Lighter means zippier too

Lighter websites mean faster loading speeds, which is a big positive for your visitors too. They won’t need to wait as long for the website to load, they can charge their device less frequently, and they’ll navigate your website much more comfortably and smoothly.

4. Clear words. Logical flow

Strategic copywriting plays a big role in building a carbon-conscious website. We don’t agree with landing pages that go on for miles. Websites with concise text, clear page titles, headings, and subheadings guide your clients through, and eliminate any confusion on where they need to go to get what they want.

Finding information faster has several benefits including:

  • Less time clicking through multiple pages
  • Less resources required to serve up each page they visit
  • Less power consumed on devices
  • Plus, you’re more likely to engage your site visitors, seeing an increase in leads, enquiries and bookings.

5. Is this a want or a need?

It helps to be able to distinguish between a want or need. If your website performs well and meets your objectives, adding extras or customising certain features could be more of a pain than a plus.

From analytics to site generation, Two Sparrows are led by the overall decision-making ethos of: “Whenever you are adding to a website, ask yourself: is this necessary? If not, consider leaving it out.” – Danny van Kooten. We balance this with our client’s preferences, but aim to push as much as possible the “less is more” approach.


Our commitment to building all our websites from here using conscious decisions means we can reduce the carbon footprint of each.

If more and more website development agencies across Aotearoa and the world join the Sustainable Web Movement, we will see how big the impact could be on positive environmental change.

It all adds up. This is why it matters. And it’s something we can control, continuously improve on, and routinely measure which gives us optimism and momentum – we don’t always get the same visibility with our other decisions to be kinder to the planet.

Imagine what could happen if eco-conscious website development became the standard for the entire industry!

Our real-life examples

We’ve recently completed our first website built with a focus on being eco-conscious. Take a look at – we’ll go into more detail in another post about what we did with this one, so stay tuned. And over the coming few months we’ll be taking a look at our own website – where can we make it more eco-efficient? Watch this space.

Contact us if you’d like to talk about your website, and how we can improve it’s carbon footprint. And if you are needing a fresh new website, talk to us now to ensure it’s built from the get-go with the above principles in mind.