TPAC breakout: Introducing the Web Sustainability Guidelines (WSGs)

13 September 2023


Alex_Dawson, christos-bacharakis, cwilso, dsinger, florian, Ian, Ivan Herman, JenStrickland, jgraham_, npd, tantek, Łukasz
Alexander Dawson, lmastalerz, timfrick
Ian, jgraham_, tantek

Meeting minutes

Slideset: https://w3c.github.io/sustyweb/TPAC_Slides.pdf

RRSAgent: make minutes

RRSAgent: make logs public

[Slide 2]

RRSAgent: make minutes

(introductions from speakers)

[Slide 3]

Łukasz: Trying to define the problem. Climate crisis is going to be a transformational event in our lifetimes. Internet is seen as part of solution but not always part of problem. But it has a negative impact on the environment

Łukasz: 2-5% of global emissions. Higher than all but 4 countries.

Łukasz: Growth is high 400%+ increase in traffic since 2015. 70-140% increase on page size

Łukasz: Why didn't impact explode? Optimistaion. Especially in networking, data centres, cloud, have kept emissions more stable.

Łukasz: Question is whether optimistaions will continue? It's risky to assume they will. EU commission report predicts that energy usage of internet will douple by 2030. Grid will also decarbonise, but need to account for growth.

[Slide 4]

Łukasz: There are a number of variables we need to account for. Power usage of server. Also water for cooling. Manufacturing and resource extraction. e-waste.

Łukasz: Website carbon calculators exist, but hard to account for all the complexity.

Slideset: https://w3c.github.io/sustyweb/TPAC_Slides.pdf

[Slide 5]

[Slide 6]

Łukasz: Bad actors are attempting to greenwash, but being called out. Ethical brands get more consumer trust. News starting to look more closely at impact. Pople want to reduce their emissions.

[Slide 7]

Łukasz: Lots of things happening in industy. Books already published. Tools to examine or fix carbon impact of building products. Websites + other content. Academic research.

[Slide 8]

Łukasz: Regulatory landscape. Creating standards e.g. GRI ISO. Broader than just digital sector. Companies have to think about their impact from a digital point of view.

[Slide 9]

Łukasz: Digital sustainability quite fragmented. W3C can lead in offering user-centred recommendations. Already hints to sustainability in existing principles. a11y guidelines are a source of truth for that area, and a big inspiration for this work

[Slide 10]

Łukasz: Group started in 2013, but guidelines work started in 2022. CG is creating guides that can be adopted. Mostly non-W3C memebers. 50 individuals participated. Web devs, designeds, environmentalists, etc. involved. 40 orgs contributed as authros or reviewers.

[Slide 11]

Łukasz: Guidelines based on WCAG. [missed this]. First draft published last week. Starting to collect feedback.

[Slide 12]

<Ian> Guidelines

<Ian> Sustyweb repo

Łukasz: Guidelines designed to be easy to embed in existing sustainability guidelines. Trying to base it on latest research and provide links to sustainabilty. Trying to build into sustainable web design

[Slide 13]

Łukasz: Reaching out to external groups for feedback.

Łukasz: Looking for early adopters.

[Slide 14]

Łukasz: Ultinate goal is to reduce the impact of the digital sector. Trying to include guidelines in sustainability frameworks. Trying to integrate into tools like lighthouse. In order to progress want to form a WG to produce a specification.

[Slide 15]

Łukasz: Want to walk through an example

[Slide 16]

<mgifford> no audio

<mgifford> back

Lukasz: Guideline starts with high level example. Then have success criteria. We rate impact and effort on a scale low/medium/high. Then describe different benefits environmental/performance/conversion

[Slide 17]

Łukasz: Rnaking against GRI standard against different criteria. e.g. Energy 17% to data centres, 23% for netowrk and 60% to devices.

Łukasz: This example has low impact across all categories.

Łukasz: Then we have a code example or an example of application of a given guideline.

Łukasz: THen there are links to other resources.

[Slide 18]

Łukasz: Time for Q&A

christos-bacharakis: Thanks for the work. Question is about outreach and feedback. I struggle to define the dev community. Who are these people?

timfrick: Really early in the outreach phase. Mostly focused on getting them out. General thought is reaching out to publications like Smashing Magazine. Other similar organisations like W3C. First post-launch CG meeting end of the month. Lots of different people to reach. First work with internal networks to find leaders and influencers and get word out

Ivan: The analogy to WCAG is good. But you didn't mention horizontal review of other W3C work. Do you want to do that, so that W3C is setting a good example? Make sure WGs produce optimal sustainability solutions.

<DanD_> Just published a first version of 5g developer guidelines in GSMA

<DanD_> https://www.gsma.com/aboutus/workinggroups/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/IG.15-v1.0-1.pdf

Łukasz: I think this is a great idea. In my other role we provide guideance for [some kinds of rules] which seems similar.

<DanD_> Next version will add more best practices especially around media delivery so referencing the W3C sustainability guidelines will be valuable

Ivan: Did you imagine some kind of reporting mechanism so that websites can show in some standard way that it is abiding by these principles

timfrick: We're figuring out how to incorporate these guidelines into our tooling [ecograder?].

timfrick: We've been reliant on W3C to help us understand what the protocols look like here.

<JenStrickland> Please move speaker towards microphone.

DanD_: For AT&T it's a big deal. We can optimise up to a certain point. On the radio side things have improved. I collaborated with other mobile operators in GSMA for best practices in radio netowrking. Next iteration will consider best pratices for media delivery and I expect to incorporate this. Would like to see more detail on media side. Only deliver according to devices that are used e.g. not

delivering resolution higher than device can use, which has user benefits. Would be very useful to understand how to measure impact. We have internal reports on progress, but we have metrics that can be validated. Would be good to have the same for these guidelines where possible.

<DanD_> https://www.greeningofstreaming.org/

Łukasz: Out initial thought was that we'd try to provide metrics with guidelines, but it's very difficult to find something that creates more benefits than harms. So we ended up with low/medium/high categorisation. Research isn't currently at a stage where we can give specific numbers. Ongoing academic work. We as an industry aren't in a position to give these numbers.

<Zakim> dsinger, you wanted to ask about advice to the spec-writing community

dsinger: I used to do green MPEG. There was a realisation that we were measuring CPU cycles on general purpose CPUs that didn't map well to real hardware. Some algorithms were hard to parallelise. How much insights do you have on hotspots in ecosystem where we could do better with a new technology?

Łukasz: Trying to find these. As it stands right now, but don't have information to share yet.

<mgifford> There are also some tech specific investigation into tools like kubernetes - https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/green-tech-blog/announcing-sustainability-guidance-for-azure-kubernetes-service/ba-p/3666896

Alex_Dawson: Guidelines are backed by as much research as we can get our hands on. e.g. work on sustainability of HTML and CSS, looked at energy usage of attributes and elements over lifecycle. More research will be ongoing. As things change we will take more measures into account and update advice. Want to use the best quality evidence.

<mgifford> We wanted to focus in on the web, which is just one slice of ICT

<Zakim> npd, you wanted to comment on scopes and to comment on horizontal review as well

<tantek> +1 npd good division of scopes

npd: It's very hard to get started, first version is never perfect, but really good to get it out and get feedback. Question is on scope. This is aimed at websites? That aligns well with a11y guidelines. Is there work to be done on development of the platform e.g. new web features? There's another sustainability CG that might want to do that part? Some of these things seem like not sustainability

topics e.g. privacy / inclusion. Highest impact guideline is DEI training, which is good but maybe not sustainability.

<zoe> the definition of sustainability has long being discussed - with much user research capturing the breadth of the issue

<JenStrickland> Plug for the Equity CG: https://www.w3.org/community/equity/

timfrick: This was based on corporate sustainability standards. Does make guidelines much broader. Didn't want to just look at energy use and emissions.

<zoe> (just like a lot of the recommendations/guidelines on sustainable web development might be very closely related to web performance)

<mgifford> With accessibility, if it takes a user longer to accomplish their task, it will have a larger environmental footprint. Good accessibility helps everyone access what they need as quickly as possible.

Alex_Dawson: When we were drafting guidelines we commonly found that having impacts for performance / accessibility / privacy also reduced emissions as a side effect e.g. clean markup improves accessibility but can also reduce emissions by reducing bandwidth requirements. Alongside GRI provides things that can be easilly implented

Alex_Dawson: If you're complying with WCAG and GRI you will probably also comply with sustainability guidelines.

<Ian> (Want to leave time for "next steps" at the end)

<Zakim> tzviya, you wanted to respond to ivan

Nick Doty: Having it all in the one document doesn't necessarily make the best thing

tzviya: There's a different group that does horizonal review for a11y.

<tantek> +1 tzviya yes myself & npdoty are #sustainability CG co-chairs and s12y Horizontal Review is a project of that CG

jgraham_: energy usage ... ??? ... might be double, increase no matter what you do
… do we know if a site adopts these guidelines what sort of impact they might have?

<npd> but we haven't made much progress yet on the horizontal review side and guidance. perhaps that naturally comes later, but just want to admit our current status.

<jgraham_> Łukasz: Guidelines are low/medium/high at the moment. Guideline can reduce energy usage by some percent, but you might be better off with green hosting. We've been trying to embed this in the document, but so far it's pretty high level.

jgraham_: what is the total ... ?? ... of emissions that. .. ???? ..

<jgraham_> jgraham_: I would be interested in seeing a calculation of the total possible emissions reduction if you applied the guidelines to the entire internet.

<jgraham_> cwilso: This work is important. Few meta comments. Guidance is currently rather long. Not clear where the best wins might be found. Might be useful to identify those for designers etc. I hope that you can find where the most lossy things are. Some guidance isn't realistic with other constraints. Getting rid of extraneous things is good, but it has to be taken as realistic. If you can point people

<jgraham_> towards metrics. How to metre your own work. State of the art changes e.g. compute power changes. I like the approach that you need to keep going on teaching people how to fish. Overall I hope you feel encouraged by this.

(People can join the CG of course)

<jgraham_> Łukasz: Thanks for joining. What comes next is collecting feedback.

<jgraham_> RRSAgent: make minutes

Minutes manually created (not a transcript), formatted by scribe.perl version 221 (Fri Jul 21 14:01:30 2023 UTC).


Succeeded: s/slide 9/slide 10/

Maybe present: DanD_, Ivan, Lukasz, RRSAgent, timfrick, tzviya

All speakers: Alex_Dawson, christos-bacharakis, DanD_, dsinger, Ivan, jgraham_, Lukasz, npd, RRSAgent, timfrick, tzviya, Łukasz

Active on IRC: christos-bacharakis, cwilso, DanD_, dsinger, Ian, JenStrickland, jgraham_, mgifford, npd, tantek, tidoust, tzviya, zoe