Digital design in the age of sustainability


When designing the new, we wanted to use the process to challenge ourselves and reflect upon what it means to create a sustainable website. From early on, we set a goal of being as transparent as possible about the project and to share some reflections and learning.

While the internet may be digital, its footprint is very real. The internet is a global network of physical cables. The data that makes up the internet is stored at a physical location, with a large number of servers that run on energy. Cooling to prevent the servers from overheating also takes energy. And each prompt on a website leads to a local download of text, images, and videos, which consumes energy too. Adding up all these parts results in quite large CO2 emissions, which most of us don't think about while being online large parts of the day on our various devices.

ITC among the world’s worst emitters

According to calculations, the ITC sector is responsible for approximately 1.8%–2.8% of global carbon dioxide emissions (source). This is almost as much as South Korea and Germany emit yearly (source). Or, you could say that if the ITC sector were a country, it would be in 8th place of the world's worst emitters. Calculating energy use is quite complex, and many experts disagree on the exact numbers. Still, these figures show the significant responsibility that the ITC sector also has for reducing its emissions.

We have given users the choice of how they can view the website and see what a more sustainable web experience can look like.

A digital, sustainable aesthetic

In design, constraints are catalysts for change, so what can we do to help find solutions? How can we work smarter with digital design and creative technology to reduce the cost of web surfing in an age where everything is digital and more people are going online on bigger laptops and smarter smartphones? What if we could create better and greener websites by not over-designing them?

Throughout the explorations of designing our website, we've seen how building a sustainable site largely affects experience and aesthetics. In a way, this is going against current design trends, which are a lot about movement, interactivity, and immersive experiences. For the new Snøhetta website, we wanted to design something more sustainable yet still create an immersive experience – in a slightly different way.

Approximately 16 million colors.

Approximately 75 % of 16 million colors.

Sustainability Panel

With the new website, we want to empower and enlighten our users about digital sustainability. One of the new features to do this is a sustainability panel that is available when you first enter the website and in the menu. These settings won't save the world, but they help make the site a little more sustainable.


There are certain considerations anyone can make to create a more energy-efficient website. Here's a brief summary of the things we've been working on – and will continue to work on – to make sure we're doing what we can.

See our open board where we collect references and ideas about working with sustainable websites.


We've been inspired by many talented people who have been great resources for us. The following is a list of the people and projects that have influenced our work on our new website. If you have any questions or comments on the topic, we would love to get in touch with you.

Photo: Hinda Fahre

Photo: Antoine Mercusot


Our approach to visual matter goes further than just the design itself. Read more about how we work with Graphic & Digital Design as a discipline within an international architecture practice.