If you are concerned about the planet and need web hosting, the cloud might be the solution you are looking for. Cloud computing offers a number of environmental benefits that traditional hosting approaches find difficult to match.
First and foremost, the cloud is about sharing resources. It is obviously less harmful to the environment for one organization to run a single large data center and share its resources than hundreds of businesses run their own smaller data centers. By their nature, larger cloud data centers are more fully utilized and find it cost effective to purchase state-of-the-art insulation and eco-friendly cooling mechanisms. Companies running smaller data centers might not be able to afford such efficiencies.
Cloud computing obviously also reduces the number of servers that are being used. While customers using managed and dedicated hosting often need to rent or purchase additional servers to manage spikes in traffic, data centers offering cloud solutions can allocate resources where they are needed without running and cooling additional machines. As a result, this means less CO2 in the atmosphere. By utilizing cloud computing, big organizations can reduce their carbon footprint by many thousands of tons of CO2 annually.
Again, for those serious about the environment, it is vital that you find a viable cloud provider with solid green credentials. If you are serious about finding a green provider, you need to look for one that utilizes renewable/alternative energy such as geothermal, solar and wind power energy. At least your provider should utilize Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). You also need to establish to what extent a provider's data center has been maximized for environmental efficiency - get the specifics! If a web host is truly green they won't mind going the extra mile to explain what they have done to introduce environmentally friendly hardware and processes. In particular, you need to establish how many of a provider's servers are being fully utilized. Utilization rates of above 70% alongside Energy Star and LEED certification suggest a bone fide green provider.