aGreener.com was a business idea I was exploring back in 2007. The idea originated from a question I was considering:
What is the carbon footprint of a single Google search?
I thought it would be interesting to create a web app that used traceroute information to calculate the energy required for each of the "hops" that a web request takes between various servers on the Internet and then use the location data for each server in the IP path to estimate the carbon output of each "hop" based on the publicly available data about how each location gets its electricity.
My thesis was that if I were able to accurately measure and display the environmental impact of basic web requests that, all other things being equal, users would prefer visiting sites that had a lower environmental impact. I hypothesized that if the data about energy use and carbon output were credible, that users might actually pay for carbon offsets to neutralize their own web use.
I liked the idea a lot and the business model seemed to be viable and scaleable based on the analysis I did at the time. I chose not to pursue the business, though, since there was no defend-able IP and no "unfair advantage" that would prohibit Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any other larger Internet player from introducing a similar service to consumers.
In hindsight, I probably should have partnered with someone like The Sierra Club and leveraged their brand for awareness and for a defensible position against potential copycats.
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