Tag Archives: Sustainability

Uniting to address plastic waste and pollution

Plastic is everywhere. Nearly 400 million tons of plastic are produced each year and the majority of it ends up in landfills and incinerators, or by leaking into the environment. Each of us ingests 5 grams of microplastic each week, the equivalent of a credit card worth of plastic. Without comprehensive and large-scale interventions, we can expect that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. 


Ending plastic waste requires rethinking the way we design, produce, package, deliver, use, recycle and dispose of all consumer products. The first step is to move past the single-use disposable products and switch to more reusable and recyclable solutions. However, we also need to build better collection and recycling infrastructure to handle the volume of materials used in products today. Ultimately, we need a future where all materials and molecules can be repurposed and reused, just like in nature.


A circular economy is a system that eliminates waste and pollution. For us, that means maximizing the reuse of resources across our operations, products and supply chains, and enabling others to do the same. Today, we’re announcing that Google is a technology partner to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Initiative, which unites more than 400 businesses, governments and other organizations behind a common vision to address plastic waste and pollution. As a partner, we’ll support these organizations in the goal of ending plastic waste through packaging redesign and new delivery models. 


Here’s more information about our efforts to develop new tools, sponsor research and support the market for recycled plastics:

  • We recently partnered with Earth 911 to bring better recycling information to the Google Assistant in North America. This will help people make better, more informed decisions about what to recycle based on their location. 

  • 100 percent of the Nest products launching in 2019 are built with recycled plastics in an effort to keep materials in use longer and support recycling markets. By 2022, all Made by Google products will include recycled materials and we will maximize recycled content wherever possible.

  • To encourage other companies to adopt new recycling technologies, we worked with Closed Loop Partners on their report that includes guidance and information on how companies can better support the recycling of plastics.


A circular economy for plastics requires both creativity and concerted action. A systemic shift to a circular economy goes far beyond Google, but we’re committed to doing our part in our operations, products, supply chains, and enabling others to do the same across the world. 


It should be the goal of every business to protect our planet

Today, at the start of the 25th annualUnited Nations Climate Change Conference, Google is joining 70 other companies and union leaders to call for the United States to stay in the Paris Agreement. We’re also sharing what Google is doing as a global innovator in renewable energy markets, and to build responsible supply chains and products that use AI to drive sustainability. 

We firmly believe that every business has the opportunity and obligation to protect our planet. To that end, we’re focused on building sustainability into everything that we do—from designing efficient data centers to creating sustainable workplaces to manufacturing better devices and creating more efficient supply chains. But our goal is much bigger: to enable everyone—businesses, policy makers and consumers—to create and live in a more sustainable world. 

Catalyzing the market for renewable energy

Google has been a carbon-neutral company since 2007 and we’ve matched our entire annual electricity consumption with renewable energy since 2017. Purchasing at Google’s scale helps grow the market for renewable energy, makes it easier for other corporate buyers to follow suit and supports a future where everyone has access to 24x7 carbon-free energy.  

  • Following Sundar’s September announcement of our biggest renewable energy purchase to date, we now have a portfolio of 52 wind and solar projects totaling more than 5 gigawatts, driving some $7 billion in expected new investments and thousands of related jobs around the world. Once these projects come online, they will produce more electricity than cities the size of Washington, D.C. or countries such as Lithuania or Uruguay use each year—all with renewable energy. 

  • We insist that all projects add new renewable energy sources to the grid—which catalyzes new  wind and solar projects. This approach also drives economic growth in the regions where we operate. For example, in Europe alone, Google’s purchases of renewable energy have generated €2.3 billion in capital investment in new renewable projects.

  • Google’s renewable energy purchases have helped make significant progress towards our long-term aspiration to power our operations with carbon-free energy in all places, at all times. Reaching 24x7 carbon-free energy will require innovations across policy, technology and business models and we are working hard to advance progress in these areas. For example, we recently signed a hybrid solar-wind agreement in Chile, which will increase our hourly carbon-free energy match from 75 percent to more than 95 percent.

  • As a founding member of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), we are leading an effort to bring together more than 300 renewable energy buyers, developers, and service providers to pave the way for any company to access and purchase renewable energy. Collectively this group has committed to purchasing 60 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2025; that’s more than six times the amount of solar and wind installed in the U.S. in 2018. 

  • We’re also partnering with businesses to drive policy change to create broad access to renewable energy purchasing for everyone. For example, in the state of Georgia, we worked with Walmart, Target and Johnson & Johnson to establish the first corporate renewable energy purchasing program with Georgia Power, the local utility.

Building responsible supply chains and products

In areas where we manufacture hardware products, we view it as our responsibility to make sure our suppliers and the surrounding communities have access to clean energy. We’re also committed to integrating sustainability into every step of our hardware process, from design to manufacturing to shipping: 

  • In October, we committed to invest approximately $150 million into renewable energy projects in key regions where our Made by Google products are manufactured. Our investment commitment, alongside partners, aims to catalyze roughly $1.5 billion of capital into renewable energy. With these investments, we expect to help generate renewable energy that is equivalent to the amount of electricity used to manufacture Google consumer hardware products. 

  • One-hundred percent of this year’s Nest products include recycled content plastic. 

  • One-hundred percent of all shipments to and from customers of Made by Google products are carbon neutral. 

  • On an individual level, our products and services help consumers reduce their own environmental impact on the planet. For example, the Nest Learning Thermostats have helped people save more than 41 billion kilowatt hours of energy—enough to power all of Estonia's electricity needs for six years.

  • We’re also making it easier for people to give their old devices a second life. Customers can responsibly recycle devices for free—whether made by Google or not—via our take-back program for all products, available in 16 countries, and via our U.S. Pixel trade-in program.

Using AI to build a more sustainable world

Google’s expertise in AI is a key part of how we think about sustainability. Here are just a few of the ways AI is helping to tackle some of the world’s most challenging environmental problems:

  • We built an AI-powered efficiency recommendation system that directly controls data center cooling. This first-of-its-kind cloud-based system is delivering energy savings of roughly 30 percent. We’re now working to give our Cloud customers access to this same technology.

  • We’re using AI to optimize wind farms in our global fleet of renewable energy projects. After DeepMind and Google started applying machine learning algorithms to 700 megawatts of wind power in the central U.S., the value of that wind energy has been boosted by roughly 20 percent.

  • AI powers Global Fishing Watch, a platform we launched in partnership with Oceana and SkyTruth that promotes ocean sustainability by visualizing, tracking and sharing data about global fishing activity in near real-time and for free.

  • We’re also working to reduce the impact of our changing climate on vulnerable people. It’s estimated that every year, 250 million people around the world are affected by flooding. Our flood forecasting initiative in the Patna region of India is aimed at providing accurate real-time flood forecasting information and alerts to those in affected regions.

Providing resources to accelerate action beyond Google

Many organizations doing the most important work to address environmental challenges lack the funding and internal expertise to achieve their goals. That’s why we’re committed to empowering businesses, nonprofits, researchers and policy makers to take action:

  • Our first-ever Google AI Impact Challenge awarded $25 million in Google.org funding, product credits and mentorship from Google experts. Winners include organizations that are driving critical work in climate, conservation and energy. For example, WattTime is working to replace expensive, on-site power plant emissions monitors with a globally accessible, open-source monitoring platform. This will help make critical emissions reduction initiatives more accessible to communities that might not otherwise be able to afford them. 

  • The Google for Startups Accelerator will support social impact startups addressing climate, poverty and inequality. It gives startups access to expertise on technology, monetization of a social impact business and capital. 

  • More than 70 percent of global emissions are generated by cities. Our Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) makes it easier for cities to access and act upon new climate-relevant datasets. 

Climate change is one of the most significant global challenges of our time and Google is committed to doing its part. We’re aggressively building sustainability into our operations and supply chains—efforts that are detailed in our annual Environmental Report andResponsible Supply Chain Report. We’ll continue to lead and encourage others to join us in improving the health of our planet. 

Supporting social impact startups

Around the world, there are more startups addressing the world’s most pressing social challenges. There’s Asaduru, a South Africa-based green building business; Skilllab BV in the Netherlands, which helps refugees better integrate into labor markets; and Limbic in the UK, which uses AI to better understand mental health data.

Technology can help address some of the world’s biggest challenges, from empowering others to use AI to address social challenges, to setting ambitious and long-term environmental sustainability goals. When businesses and investors work together with government, nonprofits, communities and individuals, we can make real progress.

Today we’re launching the Google for Startups Accelerator focused on sustainable development goals. Geared toward social impact startups working to create a healthier and more sustainable future, the accelerator provides access to training, products and technical support. Startup founders will work with Google engineers and receive mentoring from over 20 teams at Google, as well as outside experts and local mentors. 

Startups will be selected based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals including poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. Applications will open for startups from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the next few weeks and eight to ten startups will take part in a six-month accelerator program in early 2020. A second cohort will be selected later in the year. 

The program is designed to address the unique challenges founders face when building a social impact company: 

Product and engineering expertise

People with social impact expertise don’t always have experience building tech products. So our program seeks to bring startups together with the best technology products, data and people to help them build expertise. 

Business development

Monetization for social impact startups is complex and can involve multiple parties: The people who pay for it may not be the people who use it, or the people who benefit from it. Our accelerator will help founders connect with the audiences they need to, such as potential users, investors and advertisers. 

Access to funding

While investors are increasingly seeing the value in social impact startups, there are unique challenges in attracting the right investors, and competing with traditional startups who are focused primarily on growth or acquisition. This accelerator will help participants connect and work with a wider base of potential investors.   

The new accelerator is part of Google for Startups which help startups build and scale great products by matching them with the best of Google—our people, network and advanced technologies. 

Made by Google, manufactured with clean energy

It's not just about what products we build, but how we build them. When designing Google hardware, like the Nest Mini or Wifi, we’re always thinking about how to create products that leave people, the planet and our communities better than we found them. 

Earlier this year we shared our initial sustainability commitments for Google hardware which demonstrate how we’re thinking about sustainability every step of the way--from design to manufacturing to shipping to reuse.

We’ve made even more progress toward these commitments. One hundred percent of the Nest products launching in 2019 are built with recycled plastics. Shipping those products, along with all other Made by Google products, from us to you, is now 100 percent carbon neutral. 

But we want to work toward a world where everyone has access to renewable energy, including our suppliers and their communities. 


As a part of this, we’ve committed to invest approximately $150 million into renewable energy projects in key manufacturing regions. Our investment commitment, alongside partners, aims to catalyze roughly $1.5 billion of capital into renewable energy. With these investments, we expect to help generate renewable energy that is equivalent to the amount of electricity used to manufacture our Google consumer hardware products. So when you buy these products, you know you’re contributing to bringing new renewable energy to manufacturing communities.

A commitment to advancing access to clean energy has long been a cornerstone of Google’s overall sustainability efforts. In September, we made the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history. This purchase includes 1,600-megawatt (MW) of wind and solar and 18 new energy deals. Together, these deals will increase our worldwide portfolio of renewable agreements by more than 40 percent, reaching 5,500 MW—which is equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops. 

The goal is to continue to integrate sustainability into our products, operations and communities, and push ourselves to do more, faster. We encourage others to join us in this pursuit.


Fighting climate change with new data

This week, leaders from cities and environmental organizations—as well as representatives from Google—are gathering at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen to raise awareness around new data sources and methodologies that play a critical role in reaching a zero-carbon future.

More than 10,000 cities around the world have committed to taking action on climate change over the next decade. But without the right data, it can be hard to know where to start. Our Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) is a free online tool that makes it easier for cities to measure, plan and reduce overall carbon emissions and pollution across their cities. Designed in collaboration with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM), EIE analyzes Google’s comprehensive global mapping data to estimate building and transportation carbon emissions and renewable energy potential. This data can then help build policies, guide solutions and measure progress.

Today EIE will be available for the first time in Europe, starting with Dublin, Birmingham, and the greater metropolitan area of Manchester, with Wolverhampton and Coventry to follow soon. We’re also making available new hyperlocal, street-level air quality data, starting in Copenhagen. This is part of a new section called EIE Labs, which will pilot climate-focused datasets as a critical indicator for prioritizing and tracking climate action.

In Dublin, city leaders have already been testing the tool, and are using EIE insights to inform smart transit programs with the goal of reducing emissions and increasing the use of cleaner modes of travel. Owen Keegan, Chief Executive, Dublin City Council, says, “Now we can bring Environmental Insights Explorer data analytics to conversations about transportation greenhouse gas emissions and show people the impact of supporting such programs to help start reducing emissions for our entire city which can help inform the debate." 

Dublin EIE Data Transportation Emissions.png

Dublin EIE data showing autos as the largest contributing source of CHG transportation emissions.

We’re creating Copenhagen’s new air quality map in partnership with the City of Copenhagen and scientists at Utrecht University, bringing in data from Project Air View, which equips Google Street View vehicles with scientific instruments to measure air quality at street level. The preliminary map shows the block-by-block concentration of black carbon and ultrafine particle pollution, which Copenhagen is already using to work with architects and designers to rethink the city for the future.

“Measuring ultrafine particles and black carbon at street level are important steps for the City of Copenhagen to understand how we can prioritise actions to secure a clean and healthy city for our citizens. This new data displays the dynamic levels of ultrafine particles and black carbon with a strong overall relation to traffic patterns, but also hotspots like the narrow streets in our old city centre,” says Rasmus Reeh, senior developer at the Copenhagen Solutions Lab, City of Copenhagen.

AirView-CPH_UFP.png

Copenhagen’s hyperlocal air quality maps are being used to redesign parts of the city to be healthier and more sustainable.

We’re staying focused on hyperlocal air quality, enabling 50 more Street View cars to capture air quality measurements on roads around the globe. We hope these insights will inspire cities to transform their own transport vehicle fleets into environmental sensing platforms—the Environmental Defense Fund’s Clean Air Guide provides some tips on getting started—and contribute to the Air Quality Data Commons platform, which supports new insights, deeper research and more effective climate action.

We are encouraged by the positive response of cities and city partners, including GCOM, whose Executive Director, Amanda Eichel, says “we believe EIE can serve as a critical first step for city sustainability teams to better assess their current situation and more efficiently track and monitor their progress in meeting their climate protection goals.”

We’re already working hard to bringing EIE to many more cities around the world, and we’re excited about helping more mayors create a healthier, cleaner future for their citizens and for the planet. If you’d like to nominate your city as the next candidate for EIE, let us know.

Neha Palmer keeps Google’s data centers green

When Neha Palmer was a kid, she idolized Marie Curie. Reading a book about the pioneering scientist inspired her to pursue the field herself. “I think of it as the geek’s princess story,” she says. And now, both in and out of her role at Google, she’s working to inspire others who want to find a way to translate their passion for science and the environment into a career. 

Neha leads the team responsible for purchasing clean energy to fuel Google’s data centers. She's helping to reach our goal of remaining carbon neutral, which we have been since 2007, and matching all of Google’s energy consumption with 100 percent renewable energy, which we have achieved for two years in a row. Thanks to the work of Neha’s team, Google recently announced our largest ever purchase of renewable energy and was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency with its Green Power Leadership Partner of the Year award.

For this installment of The She Word, Neha explains why renewable energy is so important, how Google has inspired companies to take action themselves and the one trick that keeps her productive, even on the busiest days. 

How do you describe your job at a dinner party?

When you use Search, YouTube and Gmail, all of that sits on a computer somewhere, and that somewhere is our network of data centers around the world. My job is to buy as much clean energy in the locations we have data centers as we can. Data centers are the largest portion of our carbon footprint as a company, driven by the amount of electricity they consume.

How does Google define clean energy? 

We define 100 percent renewable as: For every year, across the globe, we match every single kilowatt hour of electricity we use with a kilowatt hour of renewable energy. So far, that has meant wind and solar. But now we’re thinking: How do we get beyond that? If you have a solar farm, for example, it’s going to produce energy during the day, but when it’s dark, we still have to use the power that’s on the grid, which often includes carbon-emitting resources. Our next big goal is to buy 100 percent clean, carbon-free energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. That would mean resources that don’t emit carbon. 

I feel lucky that I have a job where I feel like I can make a difference.

Why is it so important to focus on clean energy? 

The production of electricity results in around 30 percent of all the emissions in the world. From my perspective, it’s the most important thing that we can do as a company to make sure we’re operating in an environmentally sustainable way. What we’ve seen is that a lot of companies from all sectors have followed. We see the automotive industry, consumer products, even candy bar companies moving toward clean energy. Corporations have realized that this is something that is not only beneficial for their environment, but also for their business. 

Climate is top of mind for many people right now, but a lot of people are confused about what they can do as individuals. I feel lucky that I have a job where I feel like I can make a difference. Seeing the impact of the work is really satisfying. 

What do you do in a typical day? 

I try to get big projects out of the way in the morning. If there’s something I need to sit down and think about critically, I try to block out at least an hour to focus on that. If I do have a bunch of things that are top of mind, but I know I’ll only have that one hour, I usually start the day by writing exactly one thing, and only one thing, on a sticky note. I stick it on my computer, and I won’t leave for the day until it is done. I spend a lot of time in meetings, since I’m on a very large team. And I try to sit down and have an actual lunch and be technology-free, to let my mind clear and re-energize. In the afternoons it’s a scramble—I’ve got two small children, so I get home and spend time with them before they go to bed and end the day. 

What’s one habit that makes you successful?

There’s so much discussion right now about work-life balance. One thing I’ve learned is that it's going to be seasonal. There are plenty of times where you feel stressed and you’re not going to have that balance, but there are  plenty of times where you feel like you are in control. Knowing that you can get back to that place gives me enough mental stability to get through the hectic times. 

You spent most of your career in the utilities industry, which is historically male-dominated. How have you navigated that?

I’ve always sought out strong female leaders, whether it’s within my company or outside the company, I’ve also tried to think about how I can help pull people up. It might be talking to a group of high schoolers about STEM and engineering careers, or it might be talking to an MBA class about how you convert your passion for the environment into a job. There are plenty of people who are interested in the energy industry, it’s just making sure that we find them, engage them and then hire them. 

Our commitment to ensure a sustainable future for all

Today is the start of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This year the UN is placing a large focus on climate change, so we’re here to share details about Google’s longstanding and ongoing investments in sustainability. Along with our own actions, we’re committed to partnering with governments and other companies to ensure a sustainable future for all people. 

We are focused on sustainability across all of our products and services. We’ve been a carbon-neutral company since 2007, and our work to support renewable energy remains a huge focus for us. (Last week, we announced the largest ever purchase of renewable energy by any corporation.) As our business continues to grow, we have expanded the breadth of our efforts to drive positive environmental impact, and make smarter and more efficient use of the Earth’s resources:

Hamina

Our data center operating in Hamina, Finland. This facility is one of the most advanced and efficient data centers in the Google fleet.  

Designing efficient data centers 

Google’s data centers power products like Search, Gmail and YouTube for billions of people around the world. For more than a decade, we’ve worked to make Google data centers some of the most efficient in the world. On average, a Google data center is twice as energy efficient as a typical enterprise data center. Compared with five years ago, we now deliver around seven times as much computing power with the same amount of electrical power, and we're applying machine learning to drive energy efficiency even further.
Energy

Solar project that currently serves Google operations in Chile.

Advancing carbon-free energy

Combating climate change requires a clean energy economy, which is why we’ve invested to become more energy efficient and to match every unit of energy we consume at our facilities around the world with an equivalent unit of energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar. In 2018, for the second year in a row, we matched 100 percent of our electricity consumption with renewables, and last week’s announcement increased our global portfolio of wind and solar agreements by more than 40 percent, to 5,500 megawatts—equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops. We’ve long worked in partnershipwith energy companies, policy makers and other companies to drive access to renewable energy. We’re continuing to pursue a much greater, longer-term challenge: sourcing carbon-free energy for our operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week


Woklace

We aim to restore the local ecology while improving access to the outdoors for Google employees and the surrounding community.


Creating sustainable workplaces 

We’re committed to designing and operating sustainable workplaces for our employees. We start by applying industry-leading green building standards wherever possible, and this includes 13 million square feet of Google office facilities which have achieved LEED certification. We take a science- and community-driven approach to managing our campuses, with the aim of having a positive impact in the places where we operate, and we’re designing and building our offices with local environments, ecology and animal habitats in mind. We’ve also avoided over 6.6 million pounds of food waste since 2014 by bringing new technology solutions into our kitchens.

Empowering ppl

Google technology works to help create a more sustainable and resource-efficient world

Empowering people with technology

Our technology can help enable others who are working toward the same cause. By mapping the world’s forests, oceans and watersheds, we’re making it easier for scientists, environmental organizations and communities to understand how our planet is changing over time. Google Earth is used globally by millions to explore and understand our ever-changing planet and Google Earth Engine is focused on planetary-scale geospatial analysis, giving researchers access to Google’s massive cloud and computational capabilities. We continue to work to enable cities to drive meaningful climate action plans with our Environmental Insights Explorer and we’re applying AI to some of the world’s biggest challenges, like AI-enabled flood forecasting. We recently announced we’re expanding flood forecasting efforts in India, where 20 percent of flood fatalities occur.
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Our ambition is that every product we build will leave people, the planet, and our communities better than we found them. 

Building better devices and services

Google Shopping and Google Hardware are also helping people make decisions that lessen our impact on the planet. Starting today, when you buy a product on Google Shopping or purchase Made by Google hardware, we’ll offset the carbon emissions generated from that product being shipped to you. This means that for every metric ton of carbon dioxide produced in shipping, we will ensure that the same volume of emissions is removed. 


Stadia, Google’s all-new streaming gaming platform, has joined the Playing for the Planet Alliance and will work closely with the UN to support various gaming-related sustainability initiatives in the coming years. Stadia is powered by Google Cloud, which means when it’s available later this year, it will be 100 percent carbon neutral. We also are undertaking significant work to ensure that the hardware we sell is sustainable

Sharing our progress and looking forward

You can read more in our newly released 2019 Environmental Report. Every day we’re humbled by people who turn to our products to understand how they can have a meaningful impact on our world. Increasingly, people are searching for ways to take action on climate change and other environmental issues, and we want to ensure our products help people achieve their goals. While we have a lot to be proud of, there’s a lot more work to do.


Our biggest renewable energy purchase ever

Sustainability has been one of Google’s core values from our earliest days. Over the years we’ve worked hard to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations, build products with people and planet in mind, and drive change at scale through our supply chains.


A cornerstone of our sustainability efforts is our commitment to clean energy. We’ve been a carbon-neutral company since 2007. In 2017, we became the first company of our size to match our entire annual electricity consumption with renewable energy (and then we did it again in 2018). As a result, we became the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world.

Today we’re taking another big step by making the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history. This purchase is made up of a 1,600-megawatt (MW) package of agreements and includes 18 new energy deals. Together, these deals will increase our worldwide portfolio of wind and solar agreements by more than 40 percent, to 5,500 MW—equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops. Once all these projects come online, our carbon-free energy portfolio will produce more electricity than places like Washington D.C. or entire countries like Lithuania or Uruguay use each year. 

cumulative capacity of google's renewable energy portfolio

Our newest energy purchases will increase Google’s existing renewable energy portfolio by more than 40 percent.

Our latest agreements will also spur the construction of more than $2 billion in new energy infrastructure, including millions of solar panels and hundreds of wind turbines spread across three continents. In all, our renewable energy fleet now stands at 52 projects, driving more than $7 billion in new construction and thousands of related jobs.   


To ensure maximum impact, all of our latest deals meet the rigorous “additionality” criteria we set out long ago for our energy purchases. This means we’re not buying power from existing wind and solar farms but instead are making long-term purchase commitments that result in the development of new projects. Bringing incremental renewable energy to the grids where we consume energy is a critical component of pursuing 24x7 carbon-free energy for all of our operations.


Current wind and solar projects

Clockwise from top left: Wind and solar projects that currently serve Google in Sweden; North Carolina; the Netherlands; Oklahoma; and Chile.

These 18 new deals span the globe, and include investments in the U.S., Chile and Europe. In the U.S., we’ll purchase energy from 720 MW of solar farms in North Carolina (155 MW), South Carolina (75 MW), and Texas (490 MW)—more than doubling the capacity of our global solar portfolio to date. In South America, we’re adding 125 MW of renewable energy capacity to the grid that supplies our data center in Chile. And tomorrow I will be in Finland to share more detail on our sizeable new projects in Europe.


These renewable energy purchases aren't only notable for their size. Up to now, most of our renewable energy purchases in the U.S. have been wind-driven, but the declining cost of solar (down more than 80 percent in the past decade) has made harnessing the sun increasingly cost-effective. Meanwhile, our Chile deal marks the first time we’ll buy power in a hybrid technology deal that combines solar and wind. Because the wind often blows at different times than the sun shines, pairing them will allow us to match our Chilean data center with carbon-free electricity for a larger portion of each day.

Before and after new agreements - Americas

The agreements announced today will bring additional large-scale solar and wind farms—representing more than $2 billion in new energy infrastructure—to electric grids worldwide

Beyond our own operations, we’re working to make clean energy mainstream and break down the barriers for those who want to purchase renewable energy. Today we’re announcing two new grants from Google.org to provide further support for organizations that expand access to clean energy for all businesses—from flower shops to big-box retailers to startups. We’ll provide a $500,000 grant to Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) in the U.S. and a 500,000 euro grant to RE-Source in Europe. These grants will help fund the development of new purchasing models, provide training and resources for consumers, and enable more widespread access to clean power.

As you can see in our newly released 2019 Environmental Report, these are just a few of the ways we’re working to tackle climate change at a global scale. We're also investing in AI and other technologies like Google Earth Engine to scale these efforts beyond our walls. Our goal is to make sure technology can benefit everyone—and the planet we call home. With today’s announcement, we're one step closer to that goal.

Accelerating Europe’s clean energy transition

Europe has long been a leader in renewable energy. Last year, policymakers passed an ambitious set of reforms to take things to the next level, setting a new goal of meeting 32 percent of Europe’s energy needs from renewables by 2030. Google fully supports this ambitious target, and is committed to helping the continent reach its energy and climate goals. One way we can do so is to share successful strategies that we have used to purchase renewable energy for our own operations in Europe. 

The European Commission has published a new case study on Google’s renewable energy purchasing. It describes the motivations, principles and methods behind our purchasing in Europe, where we have signed 14 power purchase agreements (PPAs) to purchase electricity from 900 megawatts of wind and solar projects, enabling €1.2 billion in investment across the continent.

As the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world and the second largest in Europe, we believe corporate PPAs can play a significant role in helping Europe reach its clean energy goals. As the study shows, renewables not only are an important part of solving for climate change, but also make business sense. In an increasing number of geographic areas, renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy available. Competitive and stable renewable energy prices allow us to reduce our costs and hedge against price increases in the future, which helps us plan the growth of our business.

The case study also provides policy recommendations to encourage more corporate renewable energy purchasing. They include revising policies to drive down the cost of renewables, ensuring that corporate renewable energy buyers receive certification (known as “Guarantees of Origin”) for the electricity that they procure and encouraging cross-border PPAs so that competitive renewable electricity produced in one country can be easily purchased in another.  

Google’s work with the European Commission builds on our broader commitment to helping all companies secure a clear and easy path to purchase renewable energy. Last year, we helped launch the RE-Source Platform, a broad coalition of companies and NGOs working to accelerate corporate purchasing of renewables in Europe. 

This year is an important one for renewables in Europe, as member state governments create national plans to accelerate their energy transition over the next decade. We’re grateful for the opportunity to work alongside the European Commission to help expand corporate renewable energy sourcing. We hope this case study can help policymakers recognize the important contribution of corporate PPAs to their climate and energy goals, and encourage more companies to explore how cost-effective renewable energy can meet their business needs.

Our hardware sustainability commitments

Most of us can’t get through the day without a phone, tablet, computer or smart speaker. My team at Google understands this well—we’ve been making consumer hardware (like Pixel phones and Google Home Minis) for just over three years now. But building these devices and getting them into the hands of our customers takes a lot of resources, and disposing of our old electronics can create significant waste. 


My job is to integrate sustainability into our products, operations and communities—making it not just an aspect of how we do business, but the centerpiece of it. It’s an ongoing endeavor that involves designing in sustainability from the start and embedding it into the entire product development process and across our operations, all while creating the products our customers want. This is how we will achieve our ambition to leave people, the planet, and our communities better than we found them. 


To help us get a step closer to reaching our goals, we’re sharing a set of hardware and services sustainability commitments

  • By 2020, 100 percent of all shipments going to or from customers will be carbon neutral 
  • Starting in 2022, 100 percent of Made by Google products will include recycled materials with a drive to maximize recycled content wherever possible.
  • And we will make technology that puts people first and expands access to the benefits of technology. 

These commitments will build on the foundation and progress we’ve already made. In 2018, we began publishing our product environmental reports, which help everyone understand exactly what our products are made of, how they’re built and how they get shipped to you. And from 2017 to 2018, our carbon emissions for product shipments decreased by 40 percent. we’ve also launched our Power Project, which will bring one million energy- and money-saving Nest thermostats to families in need by 2023, and built much of our Nest product portfolio with post-consumer recycled plastic.  


We’re always working to do more, faster. But today we’re laying the foundation for what we believe will be a way of doing business that commits to building better products better.