Google Goes Green

by Devoteam, on Jan 27, 2021 12:25:58 PM

In recent years the business world has seen a rising trend of eco-friendly operation. Many forward-thinking institutions are becoming more eco-aware and are practising ways to reduce their overall carbon footprint.

‘Going green’ and ‘sustainably-sourced’ are becoming increasingly popular terms, and the more widespread they become, operating under eco-friendly practices becomes something of a status symbol for many companies. But what exactly does it mean?

For most businesses, it's a matter of printing on both sides of the paper, replacing incandescent lights with LED bulbs, and recycling. While these are commendable efforts and are sure to do their part in reducing a company's carbon footprint, Google's green initiative has taken it much further.

Renewable Energy & Carbon Free 

Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and has acquired enough carbon offsets to neutralise all its emissions since being founded in 1998. Google has since established commitments towards its goal of being completely carbon-free by 20301. The multinational technology company is focused on change at a systemic level by working with governments and policymakers to achieve carbon-free energy.

Google focused its efforts on its data centres to make them the most efficient by improving their energy use and resources. Now, they operate twice as energy-efficiently as the average enterprise data centre. Google has delivered almost seven times more computing power in just five years without upping their electricity use2.

Helping Partners & the Community

Google sees the value in extending its technology to help other businesses and cities transition to carbon-free operations.

The company has launched a platform, Environmental Insights Explorer3, that makes useful data available to more than 3,000 cities to reduce their carbon emissions. The platform uses exclusive data sources and modelling capabilities (those which empower Google Maps’ efficiency) to provide decision-makers, researchers and solution-finders with a city’s building and transportation emission approximations and opportunities to reduce them.

Google is also determined to remove carbon already present in our environment. Google has partnered with Crowther Lab4 to develop global reforestation efforts backed by science to optimise the effect of a nature-provided solution.

Even businesses that use Gmail are doing their part to decrease environmental impact by up to 98%5.

In House 

When it comes to Google's in-house initiatives, it has focused on the impact of their workplaces and the buildings that house them. More than 15 million square feet of Google offices have achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. 

In California's Bay Area, home to Google's headquarters and largest office.

Google has focused its efforts on clean transportation by promoting the use of electric vehicles and bicycles. Additionally, Google provides shuttles in the Bay Area. This is the equivalent to taking 8,760 cars off the road every working day and has ultimately reduced more than 40,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

In 2016, Google enlisted the capabilities of ML to optimise the cooling systems in its global data centres6. These ML algorithms now work automatically to produce up to 40% energy-savings to its cooling systems.

Climate Impact Challenge

Partnered with Climate-KIC, Google has committed €10 million to its Climate Impact Challenge7 dedicated to confronting climate change and using technology and innovative ideas towards a greener Europe. Organisations can apply, and upon selection, they are granted up to €2 million in funding to actualise their visions. Additionally, organisations will receive an invitation to be a part of Google for Startups Accelerator, announced by March 2021. 

Other Green Partnerships  

Carbon Tracker Initiative8 - In 2019, Google granted Carbon Tracker  $1.7 million to calculate the carbon emissions from power plants worldwide using satellite imagery.  This information will be made available to the public and is intended to hold plants accountable for their contribution to pollution.  

Fairventures Worldwide9 - This nonprofit based in Germany uses modern technology to reforest degraded areas in places like Uganda and Indonesia. Its mission is to create sustainable forestry to provide food and timber and secure income for local communities. As a previous Google Impact grantee,  Fairventures Worldwide developed a digital tool in the form of a freely available app intended for small farmers to digitise their forestry and gain insights into their timber’s financial value. The app also provides advice on caring for trees, harvesting methods, timber calculation, and local market prices for comparisons.  

Makerere University10 - This University in Uganda developed an idea to improve air quality in low-income areas using low-cost technologies to quantify, reduce, and manage air pollution. Their mission is to engage citizens and authorities into creating awareness about the air pollution problem in urban areas and the associated health risks while advising on strategies to mitigate exposure.

You can Go Green with Google

In 2019, Google pledged to incorporate recycled materials in all products by 2022.  Currently, this includes Pixel phones and their accessories, Pixelbooks and Google Home speakers. In addition to companies using Gmail as their email cloud provider, companies can also add to the green impact initiative by using Google sustainable hardware. Google also endorses a list of best practices11 to help businesses cultivate sustainability fundamentals in their own organisations. 


Feel free to contact us directly if you want to go green with Google!

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References:

1. https://sustainability.google/commitments/#leading-at-google 

2. https://blog.google/alphabet/alphabet-issues-sustainability-bonds-support-environmental-and-social-initiatives/ 

3. https://insights.sustainability.google/methodology

4. https://www.crowtherlab.com/restoration/

5. https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//green/pdfs/google-green-computing.pdf

6. https://blog.google/outreach-initiatives/environment/deepmind-ai-reduces-energy-used-for/

7. https://impactchallenge.withgoogle.com/climate2020/criteria

8. https://carbontracker.org/carbon-tracker-to-measure-worlds-power-plant-emissions-from-space-with-support-from-google-org/

9. https://fairventures.org/en/our-work/treeo/ 

10. http://cs.mak.ac.ug/research/project/3 

11. https://sustainability.google/for-partners/ 

Topics:InnovationGoogle Cloud PlatformGoogle Cloud Partner

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