Annual impact report 2018/19

At Wholegrain Digital, we have always had the ambition of being a truly sustainable business and setting the bar high to inspire other companies.

That’s why our mission is not just to create the best websites in the world, but to use our business as a force for good and help accelerate the shift to an Internet that’s good for people and planet.

This year’s impact report showcases some of the highlights of what we have achieved in environmental protection as a business, covering operations, our products and services, support for non-profits and community engagement.

wholegrain annual report pie chart

Energy and emissions

  • In the 2018/19 financial year, our total carbon emissions as a company remained almost exactly static at 10.5 tonnes
    This works out at 685kg per staff member (full time equivalent)
  • Including working from home, we sourced 84% of our electricity, and 57% of our total energy, from renewable sources
  • 90% of our team now use renewable energy at home, which covers all team members who have the ability to switch energy supplier
  • We travelled 118,000km, almost all of which was regular commuting by train.

Just over half of our emissions were from travel, with a third coming from energy used working from home. Only 17% came from business operations and office energy.

These emissions figures include all 3 emissions scopes, with Scope 3 including:

  • Electricity and gas use for working from home
  • Business travel
  • Commuting. 

Our emissions are very low compared to most other companies, largely thanks to our service oriented business model, strict no fly policy and our attempts to use second hand and refurbished electronics.

You can read more details of our emissions for 2018/19 over on our blog

Offsetting our emissions

Although our emissions are low, we are committed to working towards net zero by the end of the 2020/21 financial year. In 2018/19, we continued to support SolarAid by funding emission reduction programmes in Africa that have significant social and economic benefits for the communities affected.

We went beyond offsetting the 10.5 tonnes produced by our business activities, and used our self imposed carbon tax to offset 84.9 tonnes. The image below shows the significant positive impact that this has.

chart that shows offset emissions for wholegrain digital

Positive Publishing

In 2018/19 we published 25 articles on environmental topics on our website and in other publications, as well as a number of articles relating to the human impact of business and technology.

Check out our blog articles

image of wind turbines in a field

1% for the Planet
We are proud to be a member of 1% for the Planet and donate 1% of our annual revenue (yes, revenue, not profit) to environmental causes. In 2018/19 this included:

Through our membership of B Corporation and our active participation in various campaigns as well as working on projects with fellow B Corporations, including Ecover, EQ Investors, Red-Inc and One Water.

We are members and supporters of Do Nation, taking part in all of their B Corporation challenges throughout the year and encouraging others to use the platform to make small changes that can have a big positive impact on the planet.

We support the great work The Green Web Foundation is doing towards a more sustainable internet with an annual donation.

We donate our annual self-imposed carbon tax to Solar Aid, to ensure that we have a positive impact. This donation goes some way to improving the health and education of people living in poverty in Africa.

We are members of the Surfers Against Sewage’s 250 Club, supporting the wonderful work they are doing to protect Britain’s coastlines. Their various successes over the past year include a new DRS (deposit return scheme), the UK’s biggest ever beach clean and being chosen as one of the seven charities to benefit from the Royal Wedding in 2018.

Greening the internet

We are leading our industry in raising awareness of the internet’s environmental impact and demonstrating how solutions to the problem are good for society and business. Here are a few highlights of our performance in greening the web.

In 2018/19:

100% of our own websites were hosted on green hosting
61% of our clients websites were hosted on green hosting.

Our target is for 100% of client websites to be hosted on green hosting by 2026.

We also have a target for the websites that we develop to be less than half the emissions of the industry average. Currently the industry average CO2 per page view is 4.61 grams (at the time of writing) and our average client website homepage in 2018/19 had emissions of 1.99 grams CO2 per page view, a 57% reduction!

image of code on a screen

Website Carbon

How do you measure the carbon footprint of a website?

We needed to find out, and so we launched the world’s first carbon calculator for websites.We have started to embed the use of this tool into our work, as a means to measure and lower the carbon emissions of our own websites and our client websites.

Test your website
screenshot of carbon calculator

Positive Clients

In 2018/19, we did not work on any projects relating to fossil fuels or extractive industries, or any of the other industries listed as ‘red’ in our client screening policy. We did turn down a number of projects that did not meet our positive screening criteria.

70.5% of our revenue came from client projects that have a positive purpose beyond financial profit. This included 24% of our revenue from non-profit organisations and 18% from Certified B Corporations.


wholegrain office emissions pie chart


We volunteered a total of 75 hours between us, at Ambitious about Autism’s Treehouse School, in May 2018. This is an ongoing relationship we started in 2017, when we helped them to create a new ‘saplings’ site, which is now used to give young people with autism practical experience of horticulture with a view to later employment. We enjoy going back and seeing how the site is being used and how we can help them to improve and maintain it, and plan to return in 2020.

image of jerome and rachael installing solar panels