GreenGeeks Not for Geeks? Is it a iPage clone or just another host that sucks?

Number 17 of May 2010, GreenGeeks another greenwashed company.   When I loaded this site the first thing I thought was that this company looked like another company I reviewed.

Side by side this company looks a lot like iPage.   But from there I have a trouble finding any other similarities.  They are owned by different entires on separate parts of the country.  They are not even on the same network.   Asides for the same chat program I am not sure if there is much else that would connect them.   But I think there may be a connection, more then just a shared theme.

But the real problem is this is a greenwashed company, not a green host.   Their big claim to being green is that they buy energy credits, but so does British Petroleum.   At this point its hard to imagine BP having any positive environmental impact.   There is not a lot of detail given by companies that offer green credits for sale.

Greengeeks have alot of links that are in reference to being a green host.

The first link is

http://www.greengeeks.com/going-green/new-earth-day.php

Here you find a link to this company,

www.co2NeutralWebSite.com

I am not sure if I am correct in my assumption but it looks like you pay them per every page view you get or you are paying for traffic that you get from their site.  That or you can buy traffic from them.   But its unclear how this offsets carbon.  Not to mention this site seems to have mostly .dk / Denmark domains, which may have to do with them being from Denmark.  Not that I have a problem with doing business with a foreign company, but I like to know details.   For an organization that does so much, there are so few webpages with data on how they do it.  Not everyone sees the green movement as a way of life, some see it as something to capitalize on.   There also those that see that they don’t have to be green to capitalize off of the green sector.  Those are companies that are called greenwashed.  Its not clear as to what Greengeeks gets from this company other then a fancy banner, and perhaps greengeeks gets traffic.

On the same page I find their reseller program GreenResellerWebHosting.com, where you can sell unlimited reseller accounts.   I have a hard time believing that unlimited hosting can be associated with quality hosting, let alone a company claiming to be a  green host.  Green and efficient are two words that come to mind when being eco-friendly  Effiecent technology is not cheap in the beginning, and for that matter technology thats not part of the main trend is not cheap.  The cheaper the hosting cost, the more customers the company needs to pile in to make a profit.

http://www.greengeeks.com/why-us/wu-green.php

They have made the claim : “It is important that this industry becomes green and GreenGeeks is the world’s most eco-friendly web hosting company”  Other then a lot of pages telling people what to do and how they can be green.  There is nothing to show exactly how green they are,  the biggest thing that is missing are the numbers.   Numbers like the amount of electrify that they use per year.  Details are also missing like what company is receiving money to run wind generators.   I am looking at actual hosting companies that have their own data centers at buildings built from the ground up to be green.  Which include solar power straight to the source.  Not buying offsets.   They can be claim to leaning towards green when they talk about rigorous recycling of paper, but nothing in regards to equipment.  But clearly they a recycle text from their web pages.

The finale link I am going to review is http://www.greengeeks.com/going-green/epa-partner.php

From here I find a link to the EPA.

http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/partners/partners/greengeeksllc.htm

I decided to contact the EPA, because I wanted to know if you really had to provide any proof in order to be a member.

__________________________________________________

Email Exchange with the EPA

From: Benjamin
To: Matt Clouse/DC/USEPA/US@EPA, Blaine Collison/DC/USEPA/US@EPA,Allison Dennis/DC/USEPA/US@EPA
Date: 08/03/2010 05:18 PM
Subject: In regards to green power partnership

Hello Matt, Blaine, or Allison,

I was wonder what documentation I would have to provide to be part of the green power partnership.

Thank you for your assistance.

Benjamin
To: Benjamin
From: Collison.Blaine@epamail.epa.gov
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2010 17:21:10 -0400
Subject: Re: In regards to green power partnership

Benjamin,

Thanks for your inquiry. The information requirements are included in

the Partnership Agreement here:

http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/documents/gpp_partnership_agreement.pdf

The program is designed to cover only commercial & institutional sector purchases. We’re not able to recognize residential partners at this time.

I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Blaine

From: Benjamin
To: Blaine Collison/DC/USEPA/US@EPA
Date: 08/03/2010 06:35 PM
Subject: RE: In regards to green power patnership

Hello Blaine,

I am not seeing what the EPA requires an organization to submit as valid proof of participation. From what I see you merely take the word of the submitter as opposed to any documentation. Is this the case, or do you require copies of receipts and other valid documentation?

Regards,

Benjamin

Subject: RE: In regards to green power partnership
To: Benjamin
From: Collison.Blaine@epamail.epa.gov
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2010 19:10:30 -0400

Ah. Right you are, Benjamin. We don’t require that partners submit proof of purchase. We do, however, check our lists partners with the listed providers once or twice/year: This is what we think we have, could you, the providers, please confirm our understanding of your clients’ numbers?

Hope that helps.

Blaine

RE: In regards to green power partnership‏
8/03/10
From: Benjamin
To: collison.blaine@epamail.epa.gov

Hello Blaine,

I am actually contacting you for research in regards to green credits. So far I am not finding any information from the companies that provide credits and those using the credits. One of the companies that I am looking at is listed in your Green Power Partnership. But the only numbers that are given is 300%. There is no number telling me what their on the grid power consumption is. Or what companies the credit seller is getting the wind credit from.

I find it rather disturbing that the credit sellers, the companies that buy the credits, and the EPA are not disclosing numbers, facts. documentation and reasoning that a company is using renewable energy.

Benjamin

__________________________________________________

I never got a response back to my email from the EPA.  But it clear you do not have to give them valid proof to be in their green power partnership.  Without numbers and other data they can not prove that they are a green host.  Other then a lot of pages GreenGeeks has no relevant proof they are green,

Is Interactiveonline.com a green host, perhaps begreennow.com helps out!!!

Considering my earlier post was on green hosting, I figured I would look at the link below to see how they went green.

http://interactiveonline.com/images/stories/renewable-energy-certificate-2009.png

I admit while being a green person, I am not really aware of how many tons of carbon I make on my own. My philosophy has been to recycle, reuse, and reduce and make changes as I go. So I thought I would find out how much 8 metric tons of carbon offsets are going to effect. Turns out not much. I decided to contact begreennow.com by phone to find out the cost of 8 tons of carbon offsets. Honestly I was a little surprised at how low it was and how fast I got the answer.

Guess how much that cost them to get? 1 metric ton is $15 (though after an email I find out it was $14). How green is Interactiveonline.com? Apparently $112 worth. This does not amount up to much. You can try begreennow.com’s carbon calculator, though you better have a car that was built no later then 2000 other wise they will not have your car. Just picking the nations average on home electricity and natural gas I get 10.6 metric tons.

http://www.begreennow.com/reduce-offset/carbon-calculator/

I don’t think begreennow.com’s calculator is the best set up, but I think its safe to say that interactiveonline.com’s tree planting is not doing a lot to offset their electricity use. Though after a look through their terms of service I find:

We will plant a tree for every new direct customer that signs up for our Green Hosting package. Interactive Online does not do the actual planting of the tree. Instead we donate $1 for every new customer to plantabillion.org

Apparently Begreennow.com is not the only company they work with, so why is interactiveonline.com not showing how many trees they have planted so far? Small customer list? Or is this the Carbon Offsets they buy? So far this part of the terms of service and the link to 8 metric ton certificate are all that Interactiveonline.com in regards to information.

———————————–

RE: carbon offsets‏
From: H, Jennifer
Sent: Tue 6/22/10 12:44 PM
To: Benjamin

Benjamin,

Here is a little information of the specific offset project we have in inventory:

Tyson Wastewater Treatment Methane Capture

Description: Tyson Foods, Inc. is the world’s largest supplier of protein, operating poultry, swine, and beef processing plants. Over 100 million gallons of wastewater from these plants is treated each day at facilities owned and operated by Tyson. Traditionally held in uncovered anaerobic lagoons, wastewater releases methane (CH4) as organic matter degrades. Methane emissions trap 21 times more heat than CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. Tyson has installed methane flares at 5 wastewater treatment facilities to convert methane into less-harmful CO2. Additionally, Tyson has installed energy recovery technology at 4 out of the 5 facilities to convert methane into steam for their boilers.

Certification: Voluntary Carbon Standard

Locations: Illinois, Nebraska, Texas, & Iowa

You can order online at:

http://www.begreennow.com/store/home.php?cat=265

They are working on the site as we speak so 1st the cost per offset is $14.00, not changed to $15.00 yet and they are adding new security features. You should be able to order in the next couple of hours or I can take your information over the phone and mail you a certificate of purchase.

Sorry for the inconvenience. Let me know if you have any additional questions.

J Humphries
Sales Operations Coordinator, Environmental Products
Green Mountain Energy Company
P.O. Box 689008
Austin, TX 78768
Office: (512) 691-6318
Fax: (512) 691-6353

Be part of the solution at www.greenmountain.com

———————————–

From: Benjamin
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 2:27 PM
To: H, Jennifer
Subject: carbon offsets

Hello again Jennifer,

I just wanted to clarify that its $15 per metric ton, and do you have a link I can look at for this and perhaps order?

Regards,

Benjamin

———————————–

I am not sure I will ever look at chicken the same way again. I would have found the cost out if I would have clicked on the “Offset My Emissions” button. I am not a big fan of emissions offsets, after all Interactiveonline.com is using it to say they are a green host (despite they only show a certificate for 8 metric tons). But the truth of the matter is they are paying someone else to be green for them. Rather small amount that it is to claim they are a green company. I am not sure I am a fan of begreennow.com either, as there only method for countering pollution is to sell you the right to have someone else do it for you.

Green Hosting, Earth friendly, or Just for Show

Today I went to Burger King. Probable not the place to be while I work on recovering a 6 pack stomach I lost from 10 years of long hours in a chair. But I wanted some French Fries, and it had been weeks since I last visited BK so I think I deserve a little slack. In front of me was a guy that ordered 2 Quad Stackers, 1 large fry, 1 large onion ring, and he asked for the a large diet Coke. The single drink did not clue me into the fact this was all his meal til I saw him sitting by himself. By the time I got a medium Coke and Large fry, the guy was sitting at a bench working on his second burger from his 3000 calorie meal.

This is pretty much is what I see of buying energy credits, planting a tree, or / and claims of buying more efficient servers. Its no better then buying the King sized diet Coke that is some how supposed to balance out all those calories from the meal. Never mind the diet Coke is not going to reduce calories. I suppose you could think of it as there being less calories then that of a non-diet drink. But there is still a huge amount of calories that will have to be worked off. Going green means a total change in habits.

You see a lot of webhosts out there stating they are going green. I am not one to have a problem with environmentally friendly practices. I freely admit to being a tree huger. I get a tree every year on Earth Day, in addition to something else. I try to go bigger then previous years. Last year for Earth Day I started a composter, and about to do a second one so I can cycle out ever year. Which means no more landscape plant trimmings and food being thrown away in addition I don’t have to buy fertilizer. Between the composter and the recycling bin my trash bin gets put to the curb once a month. This year for Earth Day I switched from florescent to led lighting. I tend to do my most major changes during Earth Day, yet I also do other changes through the year. Back in December I bought myself a Kindle right after I sold one of my Hosting companies, 85 books later I have to wonder how many trees did not have to die to provide me reading material. Then there are the cloth bags I got so I don’t have to use plastic, I eat organic food, I love to bike, I could go on and on , on how I try to live a green life style. Granted these chances were costly in the beginning but the changes end up saving me money over the long run. I spent over $1000 on LED LIGHT, but in the end they will save me money on energy costs two fold both in cost of lighting, and less heat generated for my air conditioner to compensate for, a great thing when you live in the Sonoran Desert. Not to mention they have a longer life span then my florescent lights. Then there is nothing like getting a new book for practically 1/3 the cost of its hard back counter part.

Most of the webhosts I looked at seem to focus on only one or two aspect(s) of going “green”. They either plant a tree per customer, or for that matter buy green energy credits, use more energy efficient servers. There is no company wide goal to truly be a green hosting company.

Why not?

Car pooling
LED lighting
recycling trash
recycling computers and servers
skylights
solar panels
installing vampire surge protectors

………… and lots of stuff I am sure I missed.

Hostgator.com is one of the sites that buys energy credits, for that matter they claim “All of our shared and reseller servers are now 130% wind powered!. Considering their servers are located with ThePlant I wondered how that is possible.

http://www.theplanet.com/

Network Whois record

Queried whois.arin.net with “74.54.219.180“…

OrgName:    ThePlanet.com Internet Services, Inc. 
OrgID:      TPCM
Address:    315 Capitol
Address:    Suite 205
City:       Houston
StateProv:  TX
PostalCode: 77002
Country:    US

ReferralServer: rwhois://rwhois.theplanet.com:4321

I am curious to know how they determine their power usage. Though I guess they could just off servers. But what about the equipment that gets the servers online?

Then there is the claim of servers running 35% more efficient. I don’t see anything on the blog or forms about a switch on equipment, or for that matter anything about Earth Day. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and interrupt this to mean that they started using these servers on all new accounts, perhaps even a slow migration to avoid interruption in customer service.

Though it is worth noting that the author of their blog post: http://blog.hostgator.com/2008/08/25/whats-lean-mean-and-now-green/

Has a website on a domain that will expire tomorrow (June 23, 2010):

iemarketservices.com

Buying green energy is a start, buying more efficient servers even better, but also only a start.

I see nothing in regards to recycling, or for that matter what happens to the servers once they are no longer fit to house clients.

FatCow States:

We’re Green!

And our prizes are too! All FatCow datacenters and offices are run by 100% wind energy. Well okay, we don’t have a wind turbine on top of our buildings, but we do purchase Renewable Energy Credits to offset 100% of our power use!

Keep in mind FatCow is part of The Endurance International Group, Inc. This includes servral other hosting companies such as ipage and ipower. http://hosting-reviews-exposed.com/fatcow/fatcow-sucks-beware-read-this-fatcow-review-first-before-buying.html iPage.com mentions nothing about green power. However ipower does http://www.ipower.com/green/ . I am not sure why The Endurance International Group, Inc does not have all their 33 + companies listed as green companies.

Greenville Host Guarantees:

  • 200% green with certified wind energy credits
  • State of the art, energy efficient data center

Wind Energy Facts:

In 2009, wind energy supplied an estimated 73 billion kilowatt-hours or enough energy to power 7 million U.S. homes. Web hosting datacenters are responsible for 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Each megawatt of wind produced electricity translates into an economic impact of $1 million. Wind energy has the potential to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 1/3 in the near future.

A few points of interest on Greenville

Network Whois record

Queried whois.arin.net with “!NET-204-93-163-0-1“…

CustName:   Webhostingpad.com
Address:    5005 Newport Dr.
Address:    Suite 503
City:       Rolling Meadows
StateProv:  IL
PostalCode: 60008
Country:    US
RegDate:    2010-03-08
Updated:    2010-03-08

Webhostingpad.com (greenville’s data center) does not show case the “State of the art, energy efficient data center”

The interesting thing is the % on how much data centers changes a lot between hosts. With FatCow it was 1% with another company I looked at it was 15%, then its 8%. I would love to see the real percentage for this. Not to mention the energy credits cost more then actually energy. Something else that is going to cut into that fee that customers pay for their hosting. On the plus side it helps encourage environmentally friendly energy. On the negative that even more money that’s being diverted from customer service.