Finalist 2023

Reducing Website Carbon Emissions: Designing Digital Sustainability

MEK Studio

We created our website specifically designed to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption.

Every website is hosted on a server, and most of the world’s servers are powered by fossil fuels. We created our website specifically designed to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption.

The process was documented in an open source case study to inspire others and help businesses transition to sustainable digital practices. The case study also serves as a roadmap to help designers, studios and agencies create low emission websites as a new service for clients looking to reduce their impact.

Through this project we reduced our website carbon emissions by 67%.

Design Brief:

The problem we sought to solve was to reduce our website’s carbon emissions after learning how energy intensive websites are due to most of the world’s servers being powered by fossil fuels. Our aim was to design a new website that reduced emissions and energy consumption, prioritising design principles, functionality and accessibility.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

The design was implemented through an initial process of auditing the existing website and measuring its carbon emissions. Our focus was on energy intensive elements that we could redesign or improve upon: code, typography, colour, images, content, layout. We documented the process in a comprehensive open source case study which demonstrates and compares our previous site’s elements against the new site, along with CO2 and energy measurements. This process came through noting the emissions between the old site and new site, which ultimately led to creating the case study and exceeding the design brief.

Design Excellence

The project successfully satisfies, and exceeds, all attributes across functionality, accessibility, aesthetics, quality and sustainability. User experience was a priority, ensuring adherence to Google’s Material Design, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Colour Contrast Checker. The website is clear and easy to follow, reducing the number of clicks and allowing greater accessibility of content. Navigation is simplified and clearly described to make information easy to find. While the design is restrained and functional, it relies on strong typography to ensure visual interest and user engagement, minimise lengthy copy and divide sections of content into digestible forms.

The project communicates the benefits of investing in professional design through our demonstration of leading design skills, research and knowledge, and using our own website as a pioneering example. The project also sets a new benchmark for design excellence through its industry-first case study that demonstrates how we approached and solved the challenge.

Design Innovation

Most of us don’t think or even know about digital carbon emissions or energy consumption, but once we do it’s a breakthrough moment. Our project helps solve the legitimate problem of contributing to climate change through online activity, because every website is hosted on a server and most of the world’s servers are powered by fossil fuels. By reducing our impact we can contribute to a greener web, and the project creates a new opportunity for people to do that through our innovative case study and supporting website.

Design Impact

The overall outcome of the project was the reduction of our website carbon emissions by 67% — from 1.21g CO2 to 0.42g CO2. From the documentation of our research, design, and development process, we created a case study which we had not anticipated at the project’s briefing stage. The design succeeds in using processes that have the least possible environmental impact in their use.

This project was created by a Melbourne-based design studio and highlights the value and importance in investing in professional design. It also helps businesses transition to sustainable practices, and creates a new opportunity for designers, studios and agencies by helping them offer low emission websites as a new service for clients looking to reduce their impact.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

This project represents excellence in sustainable design principles through its industry-first case study that documents how we reduced our website carbon emissions through research and audit processes, calculations, and professional design. To supplement the website we created the case study to inspire others, help fellow designers, studios and agencies to create low emission websites as a new service for clients looking to reduce their impact, and to help businesses transition to sustainable digital practices. Overall we reduced our website carbon emissions by 67%.

Digital Design 2023 Finalists

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TLC for Kids "Tap 2 Distract" App

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Headspace Homepage Redesign - Digital Design

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IPC Health / No Moss / Tradies of West Melbourne

UNICEF Australia Website

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BUBBLE

Spacesuit&Co / Mirvac / The Ci Group

HalleyAssist HealthWatch® - Remote Patient Monitoring

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