Climate action through a sustainable web build

Learn how we helped the Climate Group reduce their website emissions by 50% with an end-to-end sustainable Drupal 9 website build.

Client
Climate Group
Service
Technology
Deliverables
Sustainable Drupal 9 website

About the project

The Climate Group is an international non-profit organisation. Its mission is to accelerate climate action to achieve their goal of seeing a world with net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Previously the charity had been operating three separate websites, all producing their own emissions. But with the digital industry responsible for at least 1.4% of global emissions, the Climate Group decided it was time to change its own digital footprint.

Our process to execute this project

The website with the largest carbon footprint was The RE100, which accounted for nearly three quarters of total emissions, whilst The Climate Group website accounted for the majority of the rest. The non-profit wanted to combine the multiple websites into one, to allow the cross input of content across its initiatives, with the exception of RE100 which was treated as a multisite.

With its overall mission centred around reducing emissions, The Climate Group is keen to lead by example. They wanted a site with the lightest code possible and their editorial team to understand the logic behind the build, so they could feel empowered to make edits going forward. It was essential we maintained a constant line of communication between the website design and build teams throughout the project. Only through cross-collaboration could such an ambitious project be successful. 

Approaching the build there was very little data-led evidence to follow, which meant our team had to map out every best practice and question each one. By letting insight and research take the lead, we helped the team create innovative ideas.

We settled on using Drupal 9 as it was the best-suited content management system, and allowed us to establish a strict pattern library approach. Through this we could also prevent a future bloated code base, whilst keeping backend and frontend developers separate and focused.

Following this we tightened up unnecessarily long visitor journeys, introduced limits, file-type requirements (such as SVG) and optimisation rules around images and icons which are huge contributors to a site’s heaviness. We reduced auto-playing videos, replacing them with static images and prevented YouTube scripts from auto-loading. This meant energy was only used if a visitor actively clicked on a video. We stripped down third-party plug-ins, font files and the theme, which we enhanced with a custom-built one. Aesthetically we then dimmed down the website’s overall colour scheme.

Impact

Despite projecting a 60% decrease in carbon emissions from The Climate Group's website, figures show our team managed to cut closer to 80% of emissions. We reduced page weights by 50% which halved the average page load time, increasing the website’s overall SEO and security rankings. As a result, more than 200 of the UK’s trees can focus on emissions elsewhere for the next year.

Since the site launched in November 2020, visitors have spent 40% more time on the website during each session, instead of generating shorter visits whilst also returning more frequently, up from 16% to 22% , which suggests site navigation is clearer. The project also saw bounce rates decrease, just as support increased, which were two of the charity’s non-environmental priorities.

By actioning every incremental gain possible, and approaching the project as a positive challenge to reduce emissions as opposed to one with negative constraints, together we achieved transformational improvements.

We intend to help The Climate Group continue these best practices, while exploring other areas of improvement which can be worked on once the new site generates performance data for us to analyse.

Nazneen Nawaz, head of media and corporate communications at the Climate Group, says: “Our mission is to promote climate action, fast. So it was really important for us that sustainability was at the heart of our recent website overhaul project.
“We were delighted with how the team guided us through the process to create a stand out site presence, that not only showcases our global brand, but does it in a way that is good for the planet.”

This project has since won a BIMA10 award. An awards ceremony that champions projects that help shape the digital industry, inspire a generation of digital professionals and define what exceptional looks like:

Takes a simple task of integrating 3 websites into a climate change solution. This could become a new methodology for digital design.” Catriona Campbell, CEO, EY Innovations Lab


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