Climate change is the defining issue of our time. With shifting weather patterns and rising sea levels, the need to go green is stronger than ever. The cloud, however magical, consumes very real resources. It’s heavy reliance on servers has made the tech industry one of the fastest growing contributors to carbon emissions. According to the EPA, data centers now account for 1.5% of all electricity consumption in the US alone and are expected to surpass the aviation industry in green house gas emissions in the coming years. Though the JAMstack shirks servers in favor of APIs, and encourages hosting sites statically via a CDN, the JAMstack approach still relies on the existence of a robust cloud infrastructure (read: servers) to work. Even so, the JAMstack architecture is centered around serving content from the edge, a practice which is significantly more energy efficient than serving content directly from the server. When a site is served from the edge, it is often fast because of its proximity to the visitor. This proximity of content to the end user means one less round trip to the server to fetch content and less energy wastage from having to navigate a request through to the origin server. Serving dynamic content like from a Wordpress site additionally demands added CPU time to render each page view before serving up the content. At scale, this distinguishing feature between the JAMstack and traditional monoliths becomes much more perceptible. Compared to their “dynamic” counterparts, static assets hosted on a CDN can be served to the end user easily and as needed without having to overprovision servers to handle load.
Thankfully, many cloud infrastructure providers that JAMstack sites rely on (i.e. Google, AWS) have made commitments to significantly reduce carbon emissions through carbon offsetting schemes and switching to renewable energy. These pledges alongside the JAMstack’s (theoretically) small carbon footprint, mean that JAMstack sites are fairly eco friendly—at least when compared to their monolithic counterparts and as long as you’re frontloading your build process as much as possible. If you’d like to be a part of the discussion around eco-friendly initiatives of hosting providers like Netlify, be sure to check out the many threads on this in the Netlify community forum. And if you’re feeling gutsy, test your site’s carbon footprint over on https://www.websitecarbon.com.