Digital sustainability at the RCGP

Our strategic plan for 2023 to 2026 is entitled “Building a sustainable future for general practice.” One of our key priorities within this plan is our response to the climate emergency. We have a sustainability lead and a dedicated delivery group consisting of senior managers across the organisation to move this work forward, including reducing our carbon emissions. 

We recognise the importance of digital sustainability in this goal. We own various websites and systems, and want to ensure our members and other visitors are able to get everything they need with a smooth, engaging user experience. We also want to minimise the carbon footprint of each of these websites and systems, and are taking active steps to do so. 

What we’re doing 

  1. Making considered design and coding choices, to make things as efficient and lightweight as possible from the start

When we redesigned our website in 2022, we made a conscious effort to focus on page load speed. Some of the pages on our old website could take over 10 seconds to load. We aimed to maximise user experience across all devices and networks, recognising that not all of our website users have access to high-end internet connections. We’ve since reduced the use of third-party requests dramatically. One example is using web fonts which are self-hosted, rather than pulled from repositories every time the page loads.  

We’ve also worked on other enhancements, including removing cumulative load shifts, offscreen images, lazy loading as standard, and setting an efficient caching policy. All these decisions have benefits both in terms of user experience and sustainability. We use tools like Ecograder and Website Carbon Calculator to find ways we can make further improvements. 

  1. Reducing redundant and large images and media content

When uploading digital content, we strive to use images responsibly, including them only when they have significant benefit. This thinking feeds into our digital design process, where we prioritise smooth, greener function. We have an ongoing content maintenance workflow and use auditing platforms to remove old documents and webpages which are no longer useful.  

In situations where images and media are beneficial, we optimise files before uploading them, ensuring file sizes are no larger than needed. Videos on the main RCGP website are hosted on YouTube and do not autoplay, meaning energy to play them is only used if the user selects to do so. We avoid use of full-screen images and videos. 

  1. Using sustainable hosting

Our websites are hosted by Microsoft Azure cloud computing, which is more energy-efficient than on-premises solutions. Azure is working towards 100% renewable energy by 2025, and zero-waste certification by 2023. Read more about Azure’s sustainability efforts on their website.  

We monitor who our visitors are and where they’re based. This website is hosted in the UK, where the majority of our members and visitors are located. We haven’t used any content delivery networks (CDNs) to service large numbers of overseas visitors, as this would increase our overall footprint. Going forward, we’re exploring ways we can use Azure monitoring tools to make our infrastructure more efficient. 

  1. Pursuing greener web training

Digital teams within the College actively seek out training in greener web practice. This includes training up with freely available resources, as well as seeking external training courses. 

How we’re doing

As of April 2024, Website Carbon Calculator rated our homepage as cleaner than 84% of pages tested, with a grade A rating and page emissions of 0.16g CO2.  

  • 40,000 visits to our homepage in a month would be equivalent to: 
  • 77.32kg of CO2e, as much as boiling water for 10,478 cups of tea; 
  • 202 kHh of energy, as much as 16,818 charges of an average smartphone; 
  • Carbon emissions which four trees would absorb in a year.

Ecograder gave our homepage a B rating, with 0.23g C02 emissions and a page weight of 731 KB. 

We’ve tested other key page types across the site to ensure consistency, and we monitor the numbers regularly. 

Get in touch

If you’d like to discuss our digital sustainability efforts, please contact us on

About this statement

This statement was published on 31 May 2024.