Tag Archives: Sustainability

Supporting a greener future in Europe

This week, Google announced that we’ve eliminated our entire carbon legacy since the company was founded, as well as our most ambitious sustainability goal yet—we aim to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy in all our data centres and campuses worldwide by 2030. 

That means that every email you send through Gmail, every question you ask Google Search and every YouTube video you watch is already carbon neutral. In the future, our services will be supplied only by carbon-free energy every hour of every day.

Here in Europe, the European Commission has set its sights on another ambitious goal with the European Green deal: to make Europe the world’s first carbon-neutral continent, reduce emissions, drive clean growth and create green jobs. 

We applaud this vision. Dating back to the first energy-efficient data centre we built in Belgium in 2007, we've made many investments to support Europe's leadership in clean energy and climate policy. Today, at the GreenTech festival in Berlin, our CEO Sundar Pichai shared how we will support Europe’s green vision further, in three main ways:

  • We’ll drive billions of euros in investment and thousands of new green jobs in Europe
  • We’ll help European business and partners increase energy efficiency through AI
  • We’ll boost innovation in cities and support European nonprofits with a €10 million Google.org Impact Challenge 

We’ll also support public policies that strengthen global action on climate through the Paris Agreement, help create carbon-free electricity systems, and ensure that the clean energy transition provides economic opportunity for all. Indeed, we know that strong public policy action is critical to making carbon-free solutions available to everyone, helping all communities prosper equally.


Investing in green infrastructure and creating thousands of jobs

By 2025, we expect to anchor over €2 billion of investment in new carbon-free energy generation projects and green infrastructure in Europe, helping to develop new technologies to make round-the-clock carbon-free energy cheaper and more widely available. This will help create more than 2,000 new clean energy jobs in Europe by 2025. 

This comes on top of other investments we’ve made in Europe. Between 2007-2018, Google invested approximately €7 billion in constructing some of the world’s most energy-efficient data centres in Europe, supporting 9,600 full-time jobs across Europe each year on average. And last year, we announced we would purchase energy from 10 new renewable energy infrastructure projects, which spurred more than €1 billion of investment in renewable energy in Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and created approximately 1,000 jobs in the process. 

In the coming decade we’ll invest in green skills training in Europe. For example, we’re partnering with SolarPower Europe to host introductory courses on careers in the solar industry, to support their goal of driving more than half a million solar jobs in Europe and power 20 percent of Europe's electricity demand with solar by 2030.


Helping other business and organisations increase energy efficiency with AI

We’re committed to creating tools, sharing expertise and investing in technologies that help others in the transition to a carbon-free world.  We’ll do even more to help our partners increase energy efficiency and reduce waste. 

Using machine learning, we’ve reduced by 30 percent the energy needed for cooling our data centres. Now, we’re making this proven cloud technology solution available for use by commercial buildings and industrial facilities around the world—such as airports, shopping malls and other data centres, helping them reduce their own carbon impact.

For example, by using Google AI to analyse large data sets and forecast demand, the French retailer Carrefour managed to drastically reduce food waste. The German electric utility company E.ON is using Cloud Data Analytics to help energy managers make decisions that reduce costs and CO2 footprint. 


Boosting innovation, helping cities and local governments, supporting reforestation

Nonprofits, civil society organisations, and universities play a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change. We’ve seen the positive impact of funding innovative ideas and leaders, such as U.K.-based Carbon Tracker’s partnership with WattTime and others to track global carbon emissions from satellite imagery.

To help further support Europe’s green pioneers, we’re launching a new Google.org Impact Challenge. We’re making available €10 million for the most promising European ideas and projects that support increased access to, or use of, renewable energy, decarbonization of transportation, improved air quality, natural resource planning and protection, or circular economy and design. Applications are open today. Recipients will receive up to €2 million in funding and in some cases support from the Google.org Impact Challenge Accelerator. They will be selected by independent experts, including Greentech founder Nico Rosberg, scientist Dr. Maggie Adderin-Pocock, Director General of the Finnish Environment Institute Lea Kauppi, and Former Irish Minister for the Environment John Gormley. 

In addition, we’ve pledged to help 500 cities and local governments globally reduce an aggregate of one gigaton (that’s 1 billion tons) of carbon emissions per year by 2030—more than a country the size of Germany emits. This adds to the €2.7 million from Google.org we committed last year to support European cities in implementing climate action plans. For example, with funding from the Google.org ICLEI Action Fund, the Birmingham-based nonprofit Centre for Sustainable Energy is launching an open-source, city-wide data set, along with tools to model decarbonization options for buildings in the city and other interventions.

Finally, as part of our work to remove carbon from the atmosphere, we’re launching a science-based reforestation program and pledging $1 million in funding from Google.org to develop tools that will help increase the likelihood of success for ecosystem restoration projects around the world, including in Northern Spain.

We’re optimistic that this can be a decisive decade for climate action.  We’re committed to supporting Europe's ambition to become the first carbon-neutral continent and to playing our part to move the world closer to a carbon-free future.


Environmental Insights Explorer Expands: 100 Australian councils and counting

Environmental Insights Explorer 

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a crucial step in fighting the climate crisis. And cities now account for more than 70 percent of global emissions. But measuring exactly which activities—whether it’s buildings, cars, or public transport—are contributing to emissions, and by how much, is complex. Without this information, cities can neither understand the challenges they face, nor the impact of their environmental policies. 

This is the problem we’re working to solve with Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), an online platform that provides building and transportation emissions, as well as solar potential analysis to make it easier for cities to measure progress against their climate action plans. Launched in 2018 for a handful of cities around the world including Melbourne, with Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide then added in 2019, EIE has helped councils accelerate GHG reduction efforts. Today, we’ve expanded EIE data access to thousands of cities worldwide, including 100+ Australian councils. 

To scale data access to local governments, policy makers and community groups, we’re also developing partnerships with leading Australian organisations, councils, and climate change experts. This includes a new partnership with Ironbark Sustainability and Beyond Zero Emissions to make EIE transportation data available for 100+ councils in Snapshot—a free tool that calculates major sources of carbon emissions, including stationary energy, transport, waste, agriculture, and land-use change. Snapshot allows municipalities to easily compare their sources of carbon emissions. This data integration will provide updated GHG profiles and enable local government policy decision-making for more than 86 percent of the country's population to put councils on a fast track for delivering commitments, building local resilience, and ensuring economic recovery. 
Accelerated city-wide analysis 
By analysing Google’s comprehensive global mapping data together with GHG emission factors, EIE estimates city-scale building and transportation carbon emissions data with the ability to drill down into more specific data such as vehicle-kilometres travelled by mode (automobiles, public transit, biking, etc.) and the percentage of emissions generated by residential or non-residential buildings. 
The insights that EIE provides have traditionally required many months of research, and a lot of resources for cities undertaking a climate action plan. Using Google’s proprietary data coupled with machine learning capabilities, we can produce a complete survey of a city that can be assessed very quickly. In this way, EIE allows cities to leapfrog tedious and costly data collection and analysis. 
EIE transport data now available in Snapshot for 100+ councils 

The next chapter 
Over the next few months, we’ll be working together to help Australian councils learn more about data insights from EIE and expand data coverage to more councils. We hope that by making EIE data accessible to more councils across Australia, we’ll help nurture an ecosystem that can bring climate action plans to life. 


Environmental Insights Explorer Expands: 100 Australian councils and counting

Environmental Insights Explorer 

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a crucial step in fighting the climate crisis. And cities now account for more than 70 percent of global emissions. But measuring exactly which activities—whether it’s buildings, cars, or public transport—are contributing to emissions, and by how much, is complex. Without this information, cities can neither understand the challenges they face, nor the impact of their environmental policies. 

This is the problem we’re working to solve with Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), an online platform that provides building and transportation emissions, as well as solar potential analysis to make it easier for cities to measure progress against their climate action plans. Launched in 2018 for a handful of cities around the world including Melbourne, with Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide then added in 2019, EIE has helped councils accelerate GHG reduction efforts. Today, we’ve expanded EIE data access to thousands of cities worldwide, including 100+ Australian councils. 

To scale data access to local governments, policy makers and community groups, we’re also developing partnerships with leading Australian organisations, councils, and climate change experts. This includes a new partnership with Ironbark Sustainability and Beyond Zero Emissions to make EIE transportation data available for 100+ councils in Snapshot—a free tool that calculates major sources of carbon emissions, including stationary energy, transport, waste, agriculture, and land-use change. Snapshot allows municipalities to easily compare their sources of carbon emissions. This data integration will provide updated GHG profiles and enable local government policy decision-making for more than 86 percent of the country's population to put councils on a fast track for delivering commitments, building local resilience, and ensuring economic recovery. 
Accelerated city-wide analysis 
By analysing Google’s comprehensive global mapping data together with GHG emission factors, EIE estimates city-scale building and transportation carbon emissions data with the ability to drill down into more specific data such as vehicle-kilometres travelled by mode (automobiles, public transit, biking, etc.) and the percentage of emissions generated by residential or non-residential buildings. 
The insights that EIE provides have traditionally required many months of research, and a lot of resources for cities undertaking a climate action plan. Using Google’s proprietary data coupled with machine learning capabilities, we can produce a complete survey of a city that can be assessed very quickly. In this way, EIE allows cities to leapfrog tedious and costly data collection and analysis. 
EIE transport data now available in Snapshot for 100+ councils 

The next chapter 
Over the next few months, we’ll be working together to help Australian councils learn more about data insights from EIE and expand data coverage to more councils. We hope that by making EIE data accessible to more councils across Australia, we’ll help nurture an ecosystem that can bring climate action plans to life. 


Cities: where climate action can have the most impact

Cities bring people and ideas together. They increase living standards, spur innovation, increase opportunity, and encourage collaboration. Cities can also be the most environmentally sustainable way for people to inhabit our planet, if we can address the reality that cities are currently responsible for 70 percent of the world’s CO₂ emissions. While this may seem like an insurmountable challenge, it’s actually a tremendous opportunity. Cities can become centers of climate action, and lead the world in driving economic recovery and resilience. 

As part of Google's most ambitious decade of climate action, we’re making a commitment to help more than 500 cities and local governments reduce an aggregate of 1 gigaton (that’s one billion tons) of carbon emissions per year by 2030 and beyond.

To do this, we'll empower city planners and policymakers with the Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), a platform we developed by analyzing Google’s comprehensive global mapping data together with standard greenhouse gas (GHG) emission factors. Today, we’re expanding access to EIE, going from 122 cities with access to more than 3,000 cities worldwide—a 25-fold increase. We’re also partnering with leading organizations, like ICLEI and Ironbark Sustainability, to support local climate action planning.

EIE platform

Request EIE data access for your city and learn more about Google’s other city climate action.


Turning climate insights into action

For cities to make a meaningful impact in reducing their carbon emissions tomorrow, they need to know where they stand today.

Yet according to the Global Covenant of Mayors, an international alliance of nearly 10,000 cities and local governments committed to fighting climate change, less than 20 percent of cities are able to execute on their commitments to climate action due to a lack of time, resources and data. And with COVID-19 leaving many localities with reduced budgets and limited resources, it’s even harder to build out a baseline emissions inventory or a robust climate plan.

With Environmental Insights Explorer, cities can leapfrog the constraints associated with lengthy climate studies. Cities can use EIE’s anonymized, aggregated mapping data and emissions insights to easily estimate the carbon footprint of their buildings and transportation activities, as well as discover their solar energy potential. Information that once required complicated onsite measurements and months to compile can now be assessed virtually, helping cities dedicate their energies toward action.

Cultivating partnerships with climate action leaders and cities worldwide

When it comes to climate change, we all need to work together. Nonprofits, businesses, universities and other leaders play an important role in testing new ideas and partnering with cities to implement the ones that work.

We’ve collaborated with partners to scale data access. Leading organizations like Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI ) and Ironbark Sustainability are integrating EIE data into their own tools, helping digitize emissions measurement and planning. With EIE data, Ironbark Sustainability is automating how they provide greenhouse gas emission information to local government councils across Australia so decision-makers can target their climate action activities.

Sign up for EIE.png

With the Insights Workspace dashboard in EIE, cities can review and evaluate emissions data. Data for more than 3,000 cities is freely available by registering for access at http://goo.gle/eie.

To help spark even more data-driven climate action, last year Google.org committed $4 million in funding to ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability to create the ICLEI Action Fund. The fund awards projects from local organizations in Europe, Mexico and South America focused on using environmental datasets to reduce citywide emissions.


Today, ICLEI is announcing the first two selected projects. In Hamburg, HafenCity University is creating a tool to help the city identify spaces and districts that can be used as urban testbeds for prototyping sustainable mobility, building efficiency and solar energy development projects. In Monterrey, Mexico, Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey received a grant to refine and amplify EIE data to help municipalities in the Monterrey region develop climate action plans. They’ll also use the data to run a model of traffic patterns in Monterrey to assess the electrification of a fleet of buses and how to optimize  transit routes.  


Supporting economic recovery and resilience with climate action

Efforts to combat climate change are both essential and a once-in-a-generation moment to create impactful jobs and modernize infrastructure. As communities are working to combat, and recover from, a global pandemic, reducing carbon emissions can and should support that recovery. 

Already, cities and local governments across the world are using EIE to set bold climate action plans and support economic development:

The opportunity in front of us all

We’ve always viewed challenges as opportunities to be helpful and make things better for everyone. To build a better future and protect our planet, we’ll continue focused efforts that help our partners take climate action and strengthen investments in technologies to make a carbon-free world a reality.

Our third decade of climate action: Realizing a carbon-free future

A few years ago flooding devastated Chennai, where I grew up. Seeing the images of the city—which had experienced extreme drought for so many years of my life—covered in flood waters, really made the impacts of climate change feel much closer to home. Last week, many of us woke up to orange skies in Northern California as wildfires continue to rage up and down the West Coast. I know others in Australia and Brazil have recently experienced similar events, and sadly they won’t be the last. 


The science is clear: The world must act now if we’re going to avert the worst consequences of climate change. 


We are committed to doing our part. Sustainability has been a core value for us since Larry and Sergey founded Google two decades ago. We were the first major company to become carbon neutral in 2007. We were the first major company to match our energy use with 100 percent renewable energy in 2017. We operate the cleanest global cloud in the industry, and we’re the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. 


In our third decade of climate action, we are going even further to help build a carbon-free future for everyone. Here’s how:


  • We’re eliminating our entire carbon legacy, effective today.

  • We are the first major company to make a commitment to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy in all our data centers and campuses worldwide. This is far more challenging than the traditional approach of matching energy usage with renewable energy, but we’re working to get this done by 2030. 

  • We’re investing in technologies to help our partners and people all over the world make sustainable choices. For example, we are investing in manufacturing regions to enable 5 GW of new carbon-free energy, helping 500 cities reduce their carbon emissions and finding new ways to empower 1 billion people through our products.

  • We estimate that the commitments we’re making today will directly generate more than 20,000 new jobs in clean energy and associated industries, in America and around the world, by 2025.

Here’s more about what we’re announcing today.

Eliminating our carbon legacy

As of today, we have eliminated Google’s entire carbon legacy (covering all our operational emissions before we became carbon neutral in 2007) through the purchase of high-quality carbon offsets. This means that Google's lifetime net carbon footprint is now zero. We’re pleased to be the first major company to get this done, today.

Operating on carbon-free energy 24/7 by 2030

Since 2017 we’ve been matching all of our annual electricity consumption with 100 percent renewable energy. Now we’re going even further: By 2030 Google is aiming to run our business on carbon-free energy everywhere, at all times. 


This is our biggest sustainability moonshot yet, with enormous practical and technical complexity. We are the first major company that's set out to do this, and we aim to be the first to achieve it. 


We’ll start by working towards 24/7 carbon-free energy at all of our data centers and campuses around the world. Our data centers power the products and services you’ve come to rely on every day. This will mean every email you send through Gmail, every question you ask Google Search, every YouTube video you watch, and every route you take using Google Maps, is supplied by clean energy every hour of every day.


Not long ago, it was hard to imagine a 24/7 carbon-free electricity supply—at a simple level, the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t shine at night. But thanks to trends in technology, and with the right government policies, the promise of 24/7 clean energy will soon be within reach. To get there, Google will invest in approaches that make it possible for us to source reliable carbon-free energy in all locations, at all times of day. We’ll do things like pairing wind and solar power sources together, and increasing our use of battery storage. And we’re working on ways to apply AI to optimize our electricity demand and forecasting. These efforts will help create 12,000 jobs by 2025. Importantly, we think our work can accelerate the availability of clean energy in communities worldwide, and help to solve challenges that have held back its ability to become an around-the-clock source of energy.


Read more in our white paper

Helping enable 5 GW in carbon-free energy investments

We’ll enable 5 GW of new carbon-free energy across our key manufacturing regions by 2030 through investment. We expect this to spur more than $5 billion in clean energy investments, avoid the amount of emissions equal to taking more than 1 million cars off the road each year, and create more than 8,000 clean energy jobs.

Helping 500+ cities reduce 1 gigaton of carbon emissions annually by 2030

Cities create 70 percent of the world’s emissions. Our Google Environmental Insights Explorer helps more than 100 cities to track and reduce their building and transportation carbon emissions and maximize their renewable energy use, by  informing them of their solar potential. Today, we’re expanding this tool to 3,000 cities worldwide.  


We’re also committing to help more than 500 cities and local governments globally reduce a total of 1 gigaton of carbon emissions annually by 2030—that’s the equivalent of the annual carbon emissions of a country the size of Japan. Read more about our efforts to help cities like Hamburg and Houston accelerate their climate action.

Helping our partners reduce carbon emissions

We are introducing a number of initiatives to help partners and organizations reduce their carbon usage and remove carbon from the atmosphere.

More than 10 percent of energy use in the U.S. comes from the heating and cooling of commercial buildings. Machine learning has reduced the energy used for cooling Google data centers by 30 percent, and now DeepMind and Google Cloud are making this Cloud technology solution available globally for use by airports, shopping malls, hospitals, data centers and other commercial buildings and industrial facilities. You can read more details on our Cloud blog

Nonprofits, civil society organizations, and universities also play a critical role. We’re working with a network of environmental organizations, such as Crowther Lab, on a science-based approach to reforestation and restoration. We’re also launching a €10 million Google.org Impact Challenge in Europe to support promising ideas and projects to support sustainability, selected by independent experts.

Helping 1 billion people through our products

Finally, Google’s products are already helping people make more sustainable choices in their daily lives, whether it’s using Google Maps to find bike-shares and electric vehicle charging stations, or in many European countries, using Google Flights to sort the least carbon-intensive option flights.


There’s more tools and information we can provide, and our goal is to find new ways that our products can help 1 billion people make more sustainable choices by 2022.

Our next decade of climate action

We’re optimistic that by harnessing new technologies, investing in the right infrastructure and tools, and empowering partners, nonprofits and people, this can be the most decisive decade for climate action yet. We’re proud to do our part, and to help move the world closer to a carbon-free future for all. 

A big step for flood forecasts in India and Bangladesh

For several years, the Google Flood Forecasting Initiative has been working with governments to develop systems that predict when and where flooding will occur—and keep people safe and informed. 

Much of this work is centered on India, where floods are a serious risk for hundreds of millions of people. Today, we’re providing an update on how we’re expanding and improving these efforts, as well as a new partnership we’ve formed with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Expanding our forecasting reach

In recent months, we’ve been expanding our forecasting models and services in partnership with the Indian Central Water Commission. In June, just in time for the monsoon season, we reached an important milestone: our systems now extend to the whole of India, with Google technology being used to improve the targeting of every alert the government sends. This means we can help better protect more than 200 million people across more than 250,000 square kilometers—more than 20 times our coverage last year. To date, we’ve sent out around 30 million notifications to people in flood-affected areas. 

In addition to expanding in India, we’ve partnered with the Bangladesh Water Development Board to bring our warnings and services to Bangladesh, which experiences more flooding than any other country in the world. We currently cover more than 40 million people in Bangladesh, and we’re working to extend this to the whole country. 

Flood forecasting map

Coverage areas of our current operational flood forecasting systems. In these areas we use our models to help government alerts reach the right people. In some areas we have also increased lead time and spatial accuracy.

Better protection for vulnerable communities

In collaboration with Yale, we’ve been visiting flood-affected areas and doing research to better understand what information people need, how they use it to protect themselves, and what we can do to make that information more accessible. One survey we conducted found that 65 percent of people who receive flood warnings before the flooding begins take action to protect themselves or their assets (such as evacuating or moving their belongings). But we’ve also found there’s a lot more we could be doing to help—including getting alerts to people faster, and providing additional information about the severity of floods.

pasted image 0 (8).png

Checking how our flood warnings match conditions on the ground. This photo was taken during a field survey in Bihar during monsoon 2019.

This year, we’ve launched a new forecasting model that will allow us to double the lead time of many of our alerts—providing more notice to governments and giving tens of millions of people an extra day or so to prepare. 

We’re providing people with information about flood depth: when and how much flood waters are likely to rise. And in areas where we can produce depth maps throughout the floodplain, we’re sharing information about depth in the user’s village or area.

We’ve also overhauled the way our alerts look and function to make sure they’re useful and accessible for everyone. We now provide the information in different formats, so that people can both read their alerts and see them presented visually; we’ve added support for Hindi, Bengali and seven other local languages; we’ve made the alert more localized and accurate; and we now allow for easy changes to language or location.

flood forecasting alerts.png

Alerts for flood forecasting

Partnering for greater impact 

In addition to improving our alerts, Google.org has started a collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. This partnership aims to build local networks that can get disaster alert information to people who wouldn’t otherwise receive smartphone alerts directly. 

Of course, for all the progress we’ve made with alert technology, there are still a lot of challenges to overcome. With the flood season still in full swing in India and Bangladesh, COVID-19 has delayed critical infrastructure work, added to the immense pressure on first responders and medical authorities, and disrupted the in-person networks that many people still rely on for advance notice when a flood is on the way.

There’s much more work ahead to strengthen the systems that so many vulnerable people rely on—and expand them to reach more people in flood-affected areas. Along with our partners around the world, we will continue developing, maintaining and improving technologies and digital tools to help protect communities and save lives.

Alphabet issues sustainability bonds to support environmental and social initiatives

For more than 20 years, Google's products have improved the lives of people all over the world. Operating our business in an environmentally and socially responsible way has been a core value since our founding in 1998. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and we’ve matched our entire electricity consumption with renewables for the past three years. We continue to make major investments in affordable housing and have made a number of significant commitments to promote racial equity

Today, as part of a $10 billion debt offering, we have issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds, the largest sustainability or green bond by any company in history. Although a number of companies have issued green bonds (directed solely to environmental uses), sustainability bonds differ in that their proceeds support investment in both environmental and social initiatives. Such bonds are an emerging asset class and we hope this transaction will help develop this new market. We’re encouraged that there was such strong demand for these bonds from investors—they were significantly oversubscribed.


The proceeds from these sustainability bonds will fund ongoing and new projects that are environmentally or socially responsible and enable investors to join us in tackling critical issues. We believe that these investments benefit our communities, employees and stakeholders, and are an important part of fulfilling Google’s  mission and goal of creating value over the long term. 


Consistent with the Green Bond Principles and the Social Bond Principles, eligible projects for use of proceeds are within the following eight areas that build on significant investments we have previously made and will not be allocated to any Google.org activities.

Energy efficiency

For more than a decade, we’ve worked to make Google data centers some of the most efficient in the world by optimizing our use of energy, water, and materials. Today, 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 electricity.  

Clean energy

Combating climate change requires transitioning to a clean energy economy. To date, we have committed approximately $4 billion to purchase clean energy from more than 50 wind and solar projects globally through 2034. Next, we are focused on our longer term vision to source carbon-free energy for our operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week; this means matching our energy consumption with clean energy for each of our data centers around the world on an hour-by-hour basis.

Green buildings

Since the beginning, we've focused on the impact of our workplaces: from how we build our offices to preventing food waste in our cafes. Today, more than 13 million square feet of Google offices are LEED certified.

Clean transportation 

We’re working to mitigate carbon emissions and take cars off the road by promoting the use of EVs and bicycles. By using Google shuttles in the Bay Area, we saved 40,000+ metric tons of CO2 emissions—equivalent to taking 8,760 cars off the road every work day. 

Circular economy and design

We are committed to maximizing the reuse of finite resources across our operations, products, and supply chains and to enable others to do the same. To date, we’ve shipped millions of devices made with post-consumer recycled plastic and 100% of Nest products launched in 2019 include recycled plastics.

Affordable housing

We strive to be a good neighbor in the places we call home. To address the lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area, we made a $1 billion commitment to invest in housing and expect to help build 20,000 residential units, of which at least 5,000 will be affordable. 

Commitment to racial equity 

Because racial equity is inextricably linked to economic opportunity, we will continue to support Black businesses. Recent efforts include a $175+ million economic opportunity initiative, including financing for small businesses in Black communities, and a $100 million YouTube fund to amplify the voices of Black creators and artists.

Support for small business and COVID-19 response

COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on many businesses. To help we made an $800+ million commitment to small- and medium-sized businesses, health organizations, governments, and health workers on the frontlines. We’ve also partnered with Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) to provide low-interest loans to community development financial institutions, who in turn provide loans to small businesses in underserved communities in the U.S., and are working with the American Library Association to create entrepreneurship centers across the U.S. 

Our Sustainability Bond Framework will guide our investments. To ensure transparency and alignment with the framework, we'll report back annually on which projects have been funded from the bonds' proceeds and their expected impact.

This is the next chapter in our commitment to a more sustainable future for everyone. 

How to grow a “living” building

Andreas Gyr

Andreas Gyr

Andreas Gyr remembers his first car fondly: a 1982 Ford Escort, which had the gas parts ripped out and replaced with 17 golf cart batteries and an electric motor. “It had about a 15-mile range and it topped out at like 58 miles per hour,” Andreas remembers. “I’d carry an extension cord around and plug it into friends’ wall outlets to make it home.” It might have been inconvenient, but it made him excited about the future. “It was different, it was hopeful, we charged it with solar panels!” he says. “I learned early adoption can be rough, but it’s necessary to get to a future where sustainable options are the norm.” 


Fortunately, he’s kept that hopefulness, and that passion for sustainability. Andreas, who works on sustainable building projects for Google’s workplaces, was recently presented the Living Future Hero award from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). (Appropriately enough, he found out on Earth Day.) He received the award for his work on 6 Pancras Square in London (a rendering of which is shown above), which was the first ILFI Zero Carbon certified building in the world, as well as his work on the upcoming Bay View campus in Mountain View. I recently talked to Andreas about his award, his current projects and this crucial moment for his industry.


Let’s start off with something basic: What exactly is a “living” building?

The core idea for living buildings was popularized by ILFI, and it’s really about a building being regenerative—whether that’s generating more energy than it uses, harvesting and treating water on site or diverting waste from landfill and reusing materials. On several of our projects, Google is implementing these strategies at a scale never done before. 


6 Pancras Square is the first ILFI Zero Carbon certified project in the world. What exactly does it take to be Zero Carbon certified? 

To achieve the Zero Carbon certification, we significantly reduced the operational energy used by the building, but we also looked at the carbon impact of the project’s building materials—the carbon emitted in their extraction, manufacturing and transportation—and made reductions there as well. Project leaders Andy Martin and Nick Barr set aggressive sustainability targets, and pushed the team to deliver significant carbon savings across the entire project. We also used Google’s operational carbon neutrality commitment and worked with Anna Escuer, Google’s Lead for Carbon, to offset the impact of the building materials, ensuring the project was designed, constructed and operates with a net zero carbon impact.

6 Pancras Square - Exterior.jpg

A rendering of the exterior of 6 Pancras Square London. 

But this is not the top of the mountain. Long-term, the goal is to design, construct and operate buildings that are truly regenerative—that store more carbon in the materials of the building than is spent to produce them, that are powered by on-site or 24/7 renewable energy, that incentivize manufacturers and industry partners to produce low-carbon products and solutions and that have a positive impact on their surrounding ecology and community.


The Bay View campus is pursuing the ILFI Living Building Challenge Water Petal—what exactly is that, and how do you do it?

The goal is to produce more usable water on your building site than required to operate it. That sounds simple, but buildings use a ton of water. One way the Bay View team reduced water demand was by installing the largest geothermal heat pump system in North America for heating and cooling the campus. The system saves eight million gallons of water per year, in addition to a lot of energy, compared to a standard system.


Photo_ Chris McAnneny, Heatherwick Studio Bay View Construction Photo.jpg

 Bay View from the San Francisco Bay Trail, Photo: Chris McAnneny, Heatherwick Studio

The project will also treat wastewater on site and use the recycled water from that system for all non-drinking water uses, like toilet flushing and irrigation. Finally, we expanded our treatment plant so that in the future, the system can accept wastewater from neighboring buildings, treat it and return it as usable recycled water. That way, even though we have to take drinking water from the city to run our building and operate our cafes, we can provide at least that much water back into the system in the form of recycled water. 


Do you have a favorite building you’ve worked on?

Picking favorites is hard for me! I put four cereals in my bowl for breakfast. The King’s Cross development project in London is going to be really cool. It’s the first Google workplace in Europe that was designed and developed by our real estate team from the ground up. The green roof is going to be beautiful and part of the planting palette was selected in collaboration with the London Wildlife Trust, so it’ll provide ecological benefit to birds, bats and bees in the area. 


What do you wish more people knew about sustainability?

Sustainability doesn’t sit in a silo, separated from economic and social challenges. To create a more resilient and abundant future for the planet and for ourselves, we need to expand who's involved in shaping that vision. This is a really important moment, where we’re talking about social justice and injustices in our culture. For the sustainability movement to succeed, its intersections with diversity, equity, accessibility and belonging must be integral to our values, how we build our teams and how we develop long term plans. 



Sustainable living tips for life at home

At Google, sustainability starts at home. We strive to build sustainability into everything we do. Today, we shared that we matched 100% of our energy use with renewable energy purchases for the third year in a row. On Earth Day and every day, we are committed to helping everyone build a more sustainable world, and part of that means making it easier for everyone to make environmentally friendly choices. According to Google Trends, over the past 90 days search interest in “How to live a sustainable lifestyle” has increased by more than 4,550%. To celebrate Earth Day while many of us are finding our new normal while sheltering in place, I wanted to share some of my favorite simple sustainability tips.

Save the planet, save some money

If I told you that putting your groceries away in the right place, freezing your leftovers, using the dishwasher (instead of washing dishes by hand) and turning down your water heater just a few degrees could help protect the environment, you might think that sounds too simple. But our greatest impact on the planet comes from just three things: food, water and energy usage. If we each make a few small changes, we can all make a big difference (and save money while we’re at it). Our Your Plan, Your Planet tool has more simple tips you can use in your home.

YPYP GIF .gif

Advice from Nest and Assistant


Nest Thermostat owners have saved over 50 billion kilowatt hours of energy since we first introduced the device, which comes to $3 billion in energy bill savings. In honor of Earth Day, the Google Assistant can help you save even more. Just say “Hey Google, give me an Earth Day tip” for simple ways you can save energy, like changing the temperature on your Nest Thermostat by just a few degrees until the leaf symbol pops up, so you know you’re saving energy.


Nest.png

Get the buzz on bees from today’s Doodle

See what all the buzz is about in today’s interactive Earth Day Doodle, made in collaboration with The Honeybee Conservancy. Guide your bee to pollinate flowers while learning fun facts about bees and how they help the planet. Even while social distancing, there are several things you can do to help, like supporting your local beekeeper, planting a pollinator garden or creating a bee bath.


Doodle - GIf .gif

A little “how to” help 

Recently, we’ve seen a spike in “how to” sustainability queries related to food, recycling and composting. If you’re in the U.S. or Canada, you can ask your Google Assistant how to recycle specific items and you’ll get local city and town specific answers. You can also check out our curated YouTube Earth Day playlist where you can learn how to compost, fix old clothing or turn those leftovers into a new meal. 

“How to freeze” has been a particular popular question. Here are a few of the answers I found particularly helpful:

  1. How to freeze milk? Place the milk in your freezer in its original plastic container or glass freezer-safe container. Make sure to leave room to allow the milk to expand, so remove some milk if needed. When you're ready to use the frozen milk, allow it to thaw in the fridge.

  2. How to freeze eggs? To freeze whole eggs, you simply mix the eggs together and pour the mixture into either an ice cube tray, or a freezer-safe container or bag. If you will need to use individual eggs, it would make more sense to make sure each ice cube tray holds only one egg so that you can easily separate them.

  3. How to freeze broccoli? Broccoli—florets and stems—must be blanched for effective freezing. If you freeze it raw, you'll wind up with bitter, drab green, shriveled stems. Blanching or steaming preserves the bright green color and tasty flavor. You can either blanch in boiling water for three minutes or steam for five minutes.

Enjoying planet Earth from wherever you are 

With travel plans paused, national parks temporarily closed and a collective effort to stay socially distant, the world feels a bit out of reach right now. While there’s no substitute for the real thing, virtual vacations are a great way to experience our planet from wherever you are sheltering in place using Google Earth. 

If you’re seeking natural beauty, explore the most enchanting forests, striking waterfalls, or unusual lakes around the globe. For those interested in the other creatures that share our planet, learn about the kākāpō, sea turtles or humpback whales. For anyone interested in a more scientific journey, learn about the ecosystems of the world, understand the impact of keystone species on their habitats, or learn how to be a scientist in your backyard—all you need is your smartphone.

I hope these tips are an easy way to get started. At Google, we know that individual actions collectively can make a big difference, and we’re happy to support everyone on their journey to a more sustainable life.

Our data centers now work harder when the sun shines and wind blows

Addressing the challenge of climate change demands a transformation in how the world produces and uses energy. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007, and 2019 marks the third year in a row that we’ve matched our energy usage with 100 percent renewable energy purchases. Now, we’re working toward 24x7 carbon-free energy everywhere we have data centers, which deliver our products to billions of people around the world. To achieve 24x7 carbon-free energy, our data centers need to work more closely with carbon-free energy sources like solar and wind. 

New carbon-intelligent computing platform

Our latest advancement in sustainability, developed by a small team of engineers, is a new carbon-intelligent computing platform. We designed and deployed this first-of-its kind system for our hyperscale (meaning very large) data centers to shift the timing of many compute tasks to when low-carbon power sources, like wind and solar, are most plentiful. This is done without additional computer hardware and without impacting the performance of Google services like Search, Maps and YouTube that people rely on around the clock. Shifting the timing of non-urgent compute tasks—like creating new filter features on Google Photos, YouTube video processing, or adding new words to Google Translate—helps reduce the electrical grid’s carbon footprint, getting us closer to 24x7 carbon-free energy.
Low carbon energy graphic

Visualization of how we shift compute tasks to different times of day to align with the availability of lower-carbon energy. In this illustration, wind energy in the evening and solar energy during the day.

Each day, at every Google data center, our carbon-intelligent platform compares two types of forecasts for the following day. One of the forecasts, provided by our partner Tomorrow, predicts how the average hourly carbon intensity of the local electrical grid will change over the course of a day. A complementary Google internal forecast predicts the hourly power resources that a data center needs to carry out its compute tasks during the same period. Then, we use the two forecasts to optimize hour-by-hour guidelines to align compute tasks with times of low-carbon electricity supply. Early results demonstrate carbon-aware load shifting works. Results from our pilot suggest that by shifting compute jobs we can increase the amount of lower-carbon energy we consume. 

Baseline vs carbon-aware load

Data from our pilot illustrates how the new system shifts compute from our baseline (dashed line) to better align with less carbon-intensive times of the day—such as early morning and late evening (solid line)—when wind energy is most plentiful. Gray shading represents times of day when more carbon-intensive energy is present on the grid.

What’s next

The first version of this carbon-intelligent computing platform focuses on shifting tasks to different times of the day, within the same data center. But, it’s also possible to move flexible compute tasks between different data centers, so that more work is completed when and where doing so is more environmentally friendly. Our plan for the future is to shift load in both time and location to maximize the reduction in grid-level CO2 emissions. Our methodology, including performance results of our global rollout, will be shared in upcoming research publications. We hope that our findings inspire other organizations to deploy their own versions of a carbon-intelligent platform, and together, we can continue to encourage the growth of carbon-free electricity worldwide. Learn more about Google’s progress toward a carbon-free future on our Sustainability site.