Squarespace’s Green Data Center efforts

The Green Data Center blog, www.greenm3.com is now hosted on SquareSpace.  My #1 reason for moving was for a better platform to create a new look for the blog which so far I like.  I migrated my content over from TypePad which I’ll write another blog entry about that effort.  For this post I want to write about Squarespace’s Green Data Center efforts.

First where is Squarespace?  They are in NYC at Peer1 hosting.

PEER 1 hosts the Squarespace data center presence in New York City, providing solid connectivity and power resources. While being a PEER 1 customer, Squarespace's business has grown by 300 percent annually for the last three years and has signed on tens of thousands of subscribing customers.
"Squarespace requires world-class hosting capabilities to maintain a reliable operation, and PEER 1 is a company of that caliber," said Dane Atkinson, CEO of Squarespace. "We are software experts, not data center experts, so we lean on PEER 1's expertise, dependable infrastructure and proficiency to provide us with the connectivity and power sources necessary to serve the tens of millions of hits our customer's sites receive each day. We've worked with PEER 1 for over four years, and we are pleased to continue this beneficial partnership."

Here are some pictures of the Squarespace servers in the Peer1 facility.

The servers are Dell as you can see.

Squarespace also has a bunch of green efforts in its office and data centers.

They have about 1,000 sites per server.

By comparison, if you were to purchase space on a server to run your own custom website, you would likely be hosted on a server with only about 50 other websites.Our cloud infrastructure achieves more than 20 times that efficiency, and reduces the power that we consume accordingly.

They have Green Energy.

Green Energy

Most electricity purchased from the grid has negative environmental implications--coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy. The solution to this problem is simple: anyone in the US can choose to purchase clean energy to power their home or office--and this is exactly what we've decided to do.

We do this in two ways.

Our office electricity bill comes directly to us from ConEdison. ConEdison provides an option to all of its customers to purchase 100% renewable energy; the specific program we enrolled in delivers our electricity from wind turbines located in New York region. This cost just over $.02 per kilowatt-hour more than what we were paying before--a no-brainer from our perspective.
Electricity for our datacenter is slightly more complicated. We'll try not to bore you with the details, but we weren't able to directly supply our servers with renewable energy. Instead, we invested in Renewable Energy Credits. RECs are an easy way for us to pay someone else to generate renewable energy on our behalf, and in our case, come from wind turbines.

As a result, 100% of the energy Squarespace buys is Green-e certified renewable. Honestly, we think it's kinda cool that everything that we do is powered by the wind. We're also excited about how easy it was to make that switch--we hope more companies will join us!

And the rest of the office joins in the green efforts.

Reducing our Footprint

While we're a small organization, we're still very mindful of our footprint and we've taken a number of steps to reduce it.

Office Location
One of the biggest benefits of living in a dense urban center is thelow impact of the urban lifestyle. None of our employees drive to work, opting rather for Subway, bus, bike, or foot.

Server Recycling / Re-Use
E-waste is an ever-growing environmental problem. When we need to replace a server, we ensure that it is either given an honorable retirement in our test environment, or else recycled appropriately.

(Nearly) Paper-Free
Paper just isn't in our culture. We use email, video conferencing, and various other collaborative tools, so we just don't seem to need a lot of paper. There are about 10 pens, 3 notepads, and 1 printer in the whole office. 

We recycle nearly everything at our office, although we haven't yet figured out how to easily compost in the heart of New York City. If anyone has any ideas that don't require earthworms, please let us know!

Carbon Offsets

Everything that we can't avoid, we offset. A primary component of this is employee travel, which accounts for around 22 tons of CO2 a year. Our offsets are purchased from TerraPass, which has certified us as a 100% carbon-balanced business.

The one area I see an exception to is Squarespace’s use of Amazon Web Services S3.

Crawl existing post media and rehost to Amazon S3 - Upon importing, Squarespace will crawl all the media from your old posts and ensure these files are uploaded to our Amazon S3 account. That means you can safely cancel your old service without worrying about how to download your images and re-upload them (an impossible manual task). Further, this won't count against your Squarespace bandwidth bill at all, as this technology is on our next generation media platform that's built to scale (using S3!).