Climate Group website case study

Driving climate action with a sustainable web build

Campaign: Content and experience management, Integration and bespoke development

This was a particularly special project for Manifesto. It marks the creative agency’s first, fully end-to-end sustainable Drupal 9 website build.

The Climate Group is an international non-profit organisation. Its mission is to accelerate climate action, to achieve their goal of a world of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with greater prosperity for all.

Previously, the charity had been operating three separate websites, all producing their own emissions. But with the digital industry responsible for at least 1.4% of global emissions, the Climate Group decided it was time to change its own digital footprint.

Our mission is to drive climate action, fast. So it was really important for us that sustainability was at the heart of our recent website overhaul project.

“We were delighted with how Manifesto guided us through the process to create a stand out site presence, that not only showcases our global brand, but does it in a way that is good for the planet.” Nazneen Nawaz, Head of Media and Corporate Communications at the Climate Group


Leading by example

The website with the largest carbon footprint was The RE100, which accounted for nearly three quarters of total emissions. Whilst the Climate Group website accounted for the majority of the rest. The non-profit wanted to transform the sites into a single site, to allow the cross pollination of content across its initiatives, with the exception of RE100 which was treated as a multisite.

With its overall mission centred around reducing emissions, the Climate Group is keen to lead by example in every sense. It wanted a site with the lightest code possible. And it wanted its editorial team to understand the logic behind the build, so they could feel empowered to tweak things in line with this logic.

This last point was really important. Because if the charity’s editorial team didn’t understand the rationale behind the build, then this could jeopardise its sustainable existence beyond its initial creation.

It was also paramount that Manifesto maintained a constant line of communication between its design and build teams throughout the project. Only through cross-collaboration could such an ambitious build come to fruition.

Challenging everything we know

Approaching this build wasn’t easy. There’s very little in the form of data-led evidence to follow, which meant our team had to map out every best practice – and then question each one of them. By letting insight and research take the lead, Manifesto could breed true innovation.

Drupal 9 won out as the best-suited CMS. We then established a strict pattern library approach. This allowed us to prevent a future bloated code base, whilst also keeping backend and frontend developers separate and focused on what they’re good at.

So what did we do? In short, a lot. We tightened up unnecessarily long visitor journeys. We introduced limits, file-type requirements (such as SVG) and optimisation rules around images and icons, which are huge contributors to a site’s heaviness. We also got rid of auto-playing videos, replacing them with static images, and prevented YouTube scripts from auto-loading. This meant energy was only used if a visitor clicked on a video. We stripped down third-party plug-ins, font files and the theme – ‘stable9’ – which we enhanced with a custom-built one. And on an aesthetics front, we dimmed down the website’s overall colour scheme. 

This isn’t everything, but it gives you a good idea of how granular we went to reduce emissions. You can read more on what we did here. Throughout the project, our entire team worked simultaneously. We  caught up on weekly stand-ups, ensuring proposed solutions were achievable. This maintained that line of communication we knew would be so important to making this project a success.

Cutting page weights by 50%

Despite projecting a 60% decrease in carbon emissions from The Climate Group’s website, figures show the Manifesto’s team managed to cut closer to 80% of emissions. We managed to cut down page weights by 50% which, in turn, halved the average page load time, increasing the website’s overall SEO and security rankings. As a result, more than 200 of the UK’s trees can focus on emissions elsewhere for the next year!

Since the site went live in November 2020 visitors have spent 40% more time on the website during each session, instead of generating lots of shorter visits. Whilst also returning more frequently – up from 16% to 22% – which suggests site navigation is clearer and more practical than previously. The project also saw bounce rates decrease, just as support has increased – two of the charity’s non-environmental priorities.

This is likely a result of Manifesto’s mantra throughout the build – that ‘every byte counts’. By actioning every incremental gain possible, and approaching the project as a positive challenge to reduce emissions as opposed to one with negative constraints, we could achieve such transformational improvements.

This project has since won a BIMA10 award. An awards ceremony that champions projects that help shape the digital industry, inspire a generation of digital professionals and define what exceptional looks like:

Takes a simple task of integrating 3 websites into a climate change solution. This could become a new methodology for digital design.” Catriona Campbell, CEO, EY Innovations Lab


How this helps us on your project

We’re able to partner with organisations to deliver strategic change and environmental impact over long-term projects. By gathering and analysing data from a wide variety of stakeholders, users, and technologies we derive insights which drive strategic decision making, and recommendations which deliver immediate and long-lasting value.

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