The Beginning of Green: How Can We Make CiviCRM More Sustainable?

2023-08-22 08:16
Written by
SYSTOPIA - member of the CiviCRM community - view blog guidelines

The Beginning of Green: How Can We Make CiviCRM More Sustainable?

This article is based on Michael McAndrew's lighting talk at CiviCamp London and research by Nicol Wistreich. Let's start the conversation on how CiviCRM can become more environmentally sustainable.

areal view of green fields overlayed with parts of electronic equipment
What even is green IT? Collage with photos by Andreas Koch, Miguel á Padriñán and Dan Cristian Pădureț (Pexels)

A global challenge

CiviCRM runs on over 10,000 sites. That is impressive! But it comes with an environmental impact. All of these websites produce CO2 and servers use precious resources.

Overall, the information and communication industry (ICT) makes up between 2.1% and 3.9% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This includes electronic equipment and infrastructural facilities such as data centres, servers and networks. By 2040 ICT could amount to 14% of CO2 equivalent emissions - which ranks its contribution to global warming higher than aviation or shipping.With climate change and environmental concerns at the forefront of many peoples' minds, organizations are looking into their digital infrastructure for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Enter Green CiviCRM, a new community channel to answer the resulting question:

So... what can we do?

How can we - as the CiviCRM community - minimize the environmental impact of our ICT solutions? Here are some first steps different actors can take towards a greener CiviCRM:


  • Check your page insights: Running background tasks, executing scripts and fetching data will contribute to the carbon footprint of your website. Use tools like the website carbon calculator and page speed insights to identify the linchpins for improvement.
  • Remove unnecessary extensions: Make it a habit to check for extensions that add unnecessary weight and server load. Bonus: This will not only improve energy efficiency but also performance and user experience.
  • Audit your server: Is it over-specified? While it seems easy and cheap to rent a bigger server, it does come with a price: data centres consume large amounts of energy and resources for operation and cooling and produce electronic waste.
  • Ask your hosting provider: Do they use green infrastructure? The Green Web Foundation offers a tool to check if a website runs on renewable energy as well as more information on what to look for.

Extension authors

  • Know your impact: The nice thing about open source is that we can have an impact wider than ourselves. CiviCRM reaches millions of end users. Factor this in when you build new tools and watch your impact grow exponentially. A simple anecdote by Danny Van Kooten illustrates this perfectly:

"Just last week I reduced global emissions by an estimated 59,000 kg CO2 per month by removing a 20 kB JavaScript dependency in Mailchimp for WordPress. There's no way I can have that kind of effect in other areas of my life." 

  • Calculate your emissions: With tools like CO2.js developers can estimate the emissions related to the use of their software. It is an open-source JavaScript library that lays the groundwork for more efficient, lower-carbon apps and websites. 
  • Streamline your extensions: There aren't any one size fits all answers here but the CiviCRM community would be happy to help make suggestions or answer questions on how you might make your extensions less resource intensive.

All community members

  • Get involved: Do you want to develop guidelines for sustainable hosting solutions, means of measuring emissions or the next game-changing resource saving theme? There is plenty more to add to the list. Join us at to discuss ideas, share experiences and develop solutions the open-source way.

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🔗 Slidedeck "Sustainable CiviCRM" by Michael McAndrew