Eco Domain (.eco) author avatar Last updated: Sep 27, 2022

Measuring our carbon footprint

Calculating the CO2 emissions of the .eco domain registry

Footprints in sand dune in Namibia

When we committed to get to net zero, we knew that we needed to get a better understanding of our carbon footprint. Initially we looked around to find an assessor to help us measure our footprint, but the ones that we spoke with were pretty busy. Their advice was to start the work ourselves. This article lays out what we’ve learned in doing so, the approach we’ve taken and our assessed impact.

Please note that this is a preliminary evaluation that is based on a self-assessment. The results and methodology may change once we have had an auditor review our calculations.

Scoping our emissions

The typical approach to calculating an organization’s carbon footprint is to look at Scope I, II and III emissions.

The Green Web Foundation does a nice job of explaining these scopes by using the example of a cup of coffee.

Carbon emissions scopes explained through the metaphor of a cup of coffee

Operating a domain registry is not like a traditional business. We’re fully virtual - we don’t have a physical office. The goods that we produce (.eco domain names) are digital; making them does not generate any direct emissions. We use partners to operate the services that we use; there is not a lot that we run directly.

Basically, our Scope I and II emissions are more or less zero and all of our emissions would be classified as Scope III. What could be considered as included in Scope III is potentially quite broad. For this initial assessment, we have chosen to focus on the impact of the digital services that we use to run the .eco registry.

Big Room digital services

In operating the .eco domain registry, there are two main pieces of digital infrastructure that are run on our behalf by CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority:

In addition, there are four other web properties that we operate that we have included in scope:

Calculation methodology

After reviewing a few different approaches for calculating the carbon footprint of websites and services, we decided to follow the Sustainable Web Design method. This method was put together by the companies behind websitecarbon.com and ecograder.com, and is supported by the Green Web Foundation.

There are several advantages of this method:

There are three main components to this model:

Diagram showing the model components

Each of these components requires electricity to operate. So the emissions generated to power these components can also be incorporated into this model. For example, if the data center is powered using 100% renewable energy that would have lower total emissions than for a data center powered using electricity from a coal or gas plant.

The model relies on a common metric where 1 gigabyte of data requires approximately 0.81 kilowatt hours (kWh) to serve, transmit and render. The 0.81 kWh is split among the components using some standard percentages:

Any of these metrics could be adjusted based on more relevant data. But for the most part, we stuck to those proposed in the methodology.

In calculating the results, we did make adjustments based on:

Digital service carbon footprint

Here are the estimated carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) emissions associated with our digital services over the last 12 months (Aug 1 2021 - July 31 2022):

Service Annual emissions (kg CO2e) Carbon intensity (g CO2e/request)
DNS 110 5.92E-11
Registry service 80 0.026
go.eco 110 0.006
profiles.eco 111 0.003
bigroom.eco 17 0.0009
ecolabelindex.com 157 0.005
Total 585

To put the total emissions in context, 0.58 metric tonnes of CO2e is equivalent to the emissions of driving a standard gasoline-powered vehicle 2,300 kilometers or of an economy passenger on an airline flight from London to Istanbul.

Flight path from London to Istanbul

What’s next

Going through the process of calculating our carbon footprint has exposed a tonne (excuse the pun!) of ways we can reduce our emissions. Over the next few months, we will be taking action to reduce our footprint. We will write up the steps we’ve taken and the impact it has - so check back here to learn more.

We will also purchase offsets for those emissions that we won’t be able to eliminate. We will share information about which offset project we will support once we have selected it.

Moreover, there are a number of things that were not in scope for this assessment such as emissions from:

We will work to expand what’s included in Scope III for subsequent assessments in 2023 and beyond. Further extending the scope to account for more of supply chain emissions will further our journey to net zero.

If you have any thoughts, questions or feedback about our carbon footprint, we’d love to hear it. Please contact us via chat or email. If you belong to the .eco community and you are working on calculating your own carbon footprint, let us know - we’d love to share what you’ve learned with the community.

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