Tag Archives: Sustainability

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.

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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.


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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.


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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.

Explore new sites, relive old hikes for National Park Week

Every year, I try to visit a new National Park, or at least start planning my trip to one. That’s a little more difficult right now, but given that it’s National Park Week, I decided to try and keep with my tradition by using Google tools to satisfy my wanderlust.


Explore new places and parks

This year, I’m heading to g.co/nationalparks, a Google Arts & Culture project developed in collaboration with National Park Service that takes you on guided tours narrated by park rangers from the Kenai Fjords, Hawai'i Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon and Dry Tortugas. I can also visit historical sites that I’ve never been to before, like Eleanor Roosevelt’s woodsy home in Hyde Park, New York or Thomas Edison’s camping sites (which, to me, look a little more like glamping). There are more than 100 Street View historical tours to choose from, and collections that let you discover Native American craft work or fossils from archeological digs. 

Afterward, I’ll take an in-depth tour of some of the National Parks of the United States and wander through a few of the most-loved ones recommended by our community of Local Guides in two popular Google Earth Voyager stories. I plan on rounding out the week with a new YouTube series from the Google Earth team that travels to National Parks across the country, literally “zooming” you into places like Elephant Hill in Canyonlands National Park and Kanarraville Falls in Zion National Park. There’s even a new Global National Parks quiz to test your geo-knowledge.

Video showing a tour of Utah's National Parks.

All of these things help an outdoor enthusiast who’s stuck inside (for the time being) to find unknown landscapes or get inspiration for their next trip. Perhaps for the most well-traveled out there, they’re a way to remember a favorite adventure. 

Or revisit old favorites

Before I venture into the unknown, I decided to take a trip down memory lane (or rather, memory trail), and re-experience some of my favorite hikes in National Parks with the help of Google Street View, and anyone can join me—starting with Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon. Saving the uphill journey for the second half of a hike is something my legs will never forget, but it remains one of my favorite National Parks memories. And thanks to Street View, I can recreate the journey … with fewer water breaks, probably.

I can also make my way up Garfield Peak in Crater Lake National Park (which I hiked during a camping trip where I first met my husband) and make as many nostalgic pit stops along the way as I want.

And last summer, my family and I all vacationed in Acadia National Park. Now that we can’t physically see one another, I’m even more grateful we went. One of my favorite memories was hiking along the park’s easternmost edge, the Great Head Trail, with my husband and meeting my family on Sand Beach, a journey I’m happily retaking via Street View … and maybe on our weekly family video call, we’ll all “hike” it together.

Source: Google LatLong


11 startups addressing global problems—here’s how we’re helping


When we announced our Google for Startups Accelerator on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in November, we did not foresee how dramatically day-to-day life would soon change. The COVID-19 pandemic and its widespread health, social and economic consequences have made the goal of the program—to help founders build technology to  solve serious issues facing our world—even more pressing. 

We received almost 1,200 applications from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and—together with an external jury—we carefully evaluated each of these ideas. Today, we’re announcing the 11 startups selected to participate in our inaugural Google for Startups Accelerator on the SDGs. These startups address a wide range of social and environmental challenges, and are working toward at least one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the U.N. 

Apic.ai (Germany) uses honeybees as biosensors in the fight to protect biodiversity. 

Cervest.earth (UK) provides personalized insights on the impact of climatic and extreme events, predicting the risks and effects of climate volatility in real-time, for any location on the planet. 

Ellipsis.earth (UK) uses drone imagery and machine learning to identify and track plastic pollution, aiming to provide a global database of the types of plastic waste found in our oceans, beaches and rivers.

Everimpact (France) combines satellite imagery and ground sensing to monitor air quality and carbon emissions in cities.  

Flare (Kenya) offers software infrastructure and operational support for medical emergency response services in Sub-Saharan Africa.

mDoc (Nigeria) uses a digital platform and in-person hubs to support people living with chronic diseases. 

OKO (Israel) is crop insurance designed for emerging markets, using new technologies in satellite imagery and weather forecasting to simplify and automate claim management. 

Ororatech (Germany) is the first commercial supplier of infrared satellite data for early detection and real-time monitoring of wildfires across the globe. 

Skilllab (Netherlands) uses AI to empower job seekers, such as refugees, to integrate their skill sets into local labor markets.

Solar Freeze (Kenya) is pioneering mobile cold storage units powered by renewable energy for smallholder farmers, to help them reduce post-harvest loss in the developing world.

Wondertree (Pakistan) accelerates cognitive and motor development in children with special needs through movement-based therapeutic and educational AR games. 

Each startup founder will work closely with engineers from over 20 Google teams and other subject matter experts to address product, engineering, business development, and funding challenges. Since this accelerator is focused on sustainability, founders will learn these skills through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals and relevant partners.

In order to keep the program safe and accessible in light of COVID-19, the first two on-site events will now be digital. Virtual training will cover topics such as creating Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), UX Research & Behavioral Economics, ML Data Pipelines and Data Visualization, SDG innovation for sustainable impact, and Strategies for Social Impact Fundraising. The five-month program kicks off on April 21st, and a second cohort will be selected later in the year.

Google for Startups was created to support those who want to build something better—and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do, whether online or IRL. These are just a few of the many startups working locally on global solutions, and we’ll continue to bring Google’s resources to this entrepreneurial community.

Data centers are more energy efficient than ever

While Google is the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, we’re also taking action on climate change by minimizing the amount of energy we need to use in the first place. For more than a decade, we’ve worked to make our data centers as energy efficient as possible. Today, a new paper in Science validated our efforts and those of other leaders in our industry. It found that efficiency improvements have kept energy usage almost flat across the globe’s data centers—even as demand for cloud computing has skyrocketed.

The new study shows that while the amount of computing done in data centers increased by about 550 percent between 2010 and 2018, the amount of energy consumed by data centers only grew by six percent during the same time period. The study’s authors note that these energy efficiency gains outpaced anything seen in other major sectors of the economy. As a result, while data centers now power more applications for more people than ever before, they still account for about 1 percent of global electricity consumption—the same proportion as in 2010. 

What's more, research has consistently shown that hyperscale (meaning very large) data centers are far more energy efficient than smaller, local servers. That means that a person or company can immediately reduce the energy consumption associated with their computing simply by switching to cloud-based software. As the data center industry continues to evolve its operations, this efficiency gap between local computing and cloud computing will continue to grow.

Searching for efficiency

How are data centers squeezing more work out of every electron, year after year? For Google, the answer comes down to a relentless quest to eliminate waste, at every level of our operations. We designed highly efficient Tensor Processing Units, (the AI chips behind our advances in machine learning), and outfitted all of our data centers with high-performance servers. Starting in 2014, we even began using machine learning to automatically optimize cooling in our data centers. At the same time, we’ve deployed smart temperature, lighting, and cooling controls to further reduce the energy used at our data centers. 

Our efforts have yielded promising results: Today, on average, a Google data center is twice as energy efficient as a typical enterprise data center. And compared with five years ago, we now deliver around seven times as much computing power with the same amount of electrical power. 

By directly controlling data center cooling, our AI-powered recommendation system is already delivering consistent energy savings of around 30 percent on average. And the average annual power usage effectiveness for our global fleet of data centers in 2019 hit a new record low of 1.10, compared with the industry average of 1.67—meaning that Google data centers use about six times less overhead energy for every unit of IT equipment energy.

Leading by example

So where do we go from here? We’ll continue to deploy new technologies and share the lessons we learn in the process, design the most efficient data centers possible, and disclose data on our progress. To learn about our efforts to power the internet using as little power as possible—and how we’re ensuring that the energy we use is carbon-free, around the clock—check out our latest Environment Report or visit our data center efficiency site.

AI’s killer (whale) app

The Salish Sea, which extends from British Columbia to Washington State in the U.S., was once home to hundreds of killer whales, also known as orcas. Now, the population of Southern Resident Killer Whales, a subgroup of orcas, is struggling to survive—there are only 73 of them left. Building on our work using AI for Social Good, we’re partnering with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to apply machine learning to protect killer whales in the Salish Sea.

According to DFO, which monitors and protects this endangered population of orcas, the greatest threats to the animals are scarcity of prey (particularly Chinook salmon, their favorite meal), contaminants, and disturbance caused by human activity and passing vessels. Teaming up with DFO and Rainforest Connection, we used deep neural networks to track, monitor and observe the orcas’ behavior in the Salish Sea, and send alerts to Canadian authorities. With this information, marine mammal managers can monitor and treat whales that are injured, sick or distressed. In case of an oil spill, the detection system can allow experts to locate the animals and use specialized equipment to alter the direction of travel of the orcas to prevent exposure.

To teach a machine learning model to recognize orca sounds, DFO provided 1,800 hours of underwater audio and 68,000 labels that identified the origin of the sound. The model is used to analyze live sounds that DFO monitors across 12 locations within the Southern Resident Killer Whales’ habitat. When the model hears a noise that indicates the presence of a killer whale, it’s displayed on the Rainforest Connection (a grantee of the Google AI Impact Challenge) web interface, and live alerts on their location are provided to DFO and key partners through an app that Rainforest Connection developed.

Our next steps on this project include distinguishing between the three sub-populations of orcas—Southern Resident Killer Whales, Northern Resident Killer Whales and Biggs Killer Whales—so that we can better monitor their health and protect them in real time. We hope that advances in bioacoustics technology using AI can make a difference in animal conservation.

Using AI to find where the wild things are

According to the World Wildlife Fund, vertebrate populations have shrunk an average of 60 percent since the 1970s. And a recent UN global assessment found that we’re at risk of losing one million species to extinction, many of which may become extinct within the next decade. 

To better protect wildlife, seven organizations, led by Conservation International, and Google have mapped more than 4.5 million animals in the wild using photos taken from motion-activated cameras known as camera traps. The photos are all part of Wildlife Insights, an AI-enabled, Google Cloud-based platform that streamlines conservation monitoring by speeding up camera trap photo analysis.

With photos and aggregated data available for the world to see, people can change the way protected areas are managed, empower local communities in conservation, and bring the best data closer to conservationists and decision makers.

Wildlife managers at Instituto Humboldt take advantage of a new AI-enabled tool for processing wildlife data.

Wildlife managers at Instituto Humboldt take advantage of a new AI-enabled tool for processing wildlife data

Ferreting out insights from mountains of data

Camera traps help researchers assess the health of wildlife species, especially those that are reclusive and rare. Worldwide, biologists and land managers place motion-triggered cameras in forests and wilderness areas to monitor species, snapping millions of photos a year. 


But what do you do when you have millions of wildlife selfies to sort through? On top of that, how do you quickly process photos where animals are difficult to find, like when an animal is in the dark or hiding behind a bush? And how do you quickly sort through up to 80 percent of photos that have no wildlife at all because the camera trap was triggered by the elements, like grass blowing in the wind?


Processing all these photos isn’t only time consuming and painstaking. For decades, one of the biggest challenges has been simply collecting them. Today, millions of camera trap photos languish on the hard drives and discs of individuals and organizations worldwide.


Illuminating the natural world with AI

With Wildlife Insights, conservation scientists with camera trap photos can now upload their images to Google Cloud and run Google’s species identification AI models over the images, collaborate with others, visualize wildlife on a map and develop insights on species population health.


It’s the largest and most diverse public camera-trap database in the world that allows people to explore millions of camera-trap images, and filter images by species, country and year.


Wildlife Insights

Seven leading conservation organizations and Google released Wildlife Insights to better protect wildlife.

On average, human experts can label 300 to 1,000 images per hour. With the help of Google AI Platform Predictions, Wildlife Insights can classify the same images up to 3,000 times faster, analyzing 3.6 million photos an hour. To make this possible, we trained an AI model to automatically classify species in an image using Google’s open source TensorFlow framework. 

Even though species identification can be a challenging task for AI, across the 614 species that Google’s AI models have been trained on, species like jaguars, white-lipped peccaries and African elephants have between an 80 to 98.6 percent probability of being correctly predicted. Most importantly, images detected to contain no animals with a very high confidence are removed automatically, freeing biologists to do science instead of looking at empty images of blowing grass. 

With this data, managers of protected areas or anti-poaching programs can gauge the health of specific species, and local governments can use data to inform policies and create conservation measures. 

Wildlife Insights Animal Classifier

The Wildlife Insights Animal Classifier tool helps researchers classify 614 species.

Acting before it’s too late

Thanks to the combination of advanced technology, data sharing, partnerships and science-based analytics, we have a chance to bend the curve of species decline.

While we’re just at the beginning of applying AI to better understand wildlife from sensors in the field, solutions like Wildlife Insights can help us protect our planet so that future generations can live in a world teeming with wildlife. 

Learn more about Wildlife Insights and watch the documentary film Eyes in the Forest: Saving Wildlife In Colombia Using Camera Traps and AI. The film tells the story of a camera trapper who uses Wildlife Insights to document and preserve the biological diversity in Caño Cristales, a reserve in Colombia’s remote upper Amazon region. 

Wildlife Insights is a collaboration between Conservation International, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Map of Life, World Wide Fund for Nature, Wildlife Conservation Society, Zoological Society of London, Google Earth Outreach,  built by Vizzuality, and supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Lyda Hill Philanthropies. 

How we power climate insights and action

This week, governments and NGOs from across the globe are convening at COP25, the United Nations climate conference in Madrid, to discuss the latest efforts to fight climate change. Addressing this pressing issue on a global scale requires urgent action from countries, communities and businesses. At COP25 we shared how Google is focused on building sustainability into everything that we do and making it possible for everyone to build a more sustainable world.

As cities now account for more than 70 percent of global emissions, we believe that empowering city governments with comprehensive, climate-relevant data and technology can play a critical role in igniting action. 

One way we are doing this is with partners like the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. We’ve brought our online tool, the Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE),to cities across the world, providing high-resolution data to measure greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and take informed action to reduce CO2 emissions.  As of today, EIE has now expanded to more than 100 cities worldwide.

Environmental Insights Explorer: Now available in 100+ cities worldwide

Empowering local action in cities worldwide

As we look beyond our latest efforts to equip cities with more comprehensive data, we’re also exploring how we can help communities turn these insights into action at the local level.

To further accelerate climate action, Google.org is launching a new $4 million fund in collaboration with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability.Grants from the fund will support nonprofits and academic institutions in Europe and Latin America that are leading data-driven climate action efforts.

The first grantee is Iniciativa Climática de México (ICM), a Mexico-based nonprofit organization that catalyzes international climate policy at the national and city levels to reduce emissions of GHGs and promotes low carbon growth in Mexico. Grant funds will be allocated to their “Hogar Solar” program. This program channels government spending on electricity towards the installation of solar panels to help increase access to power for those facing energy poverty, provide cleaner energy sources and reduce overall electricity costs. 

Data-driven initiatives like this are essential to addressing climate change and are needed at a global scale. As we fund more grantees, we will share what we learn on how to best engage in data-backed sustainability planning and action.


Translating global insights

EIE relies on anonymous, highly aggregated mapping data and standard GHG emission factors to estimate city building and transportation carbon emissions, as well as solar energy potential. We’re already seeing the early impacts of cities putting the power of EIE data behind climate plans, from bike-friendly initiatives to solar programs.

While EIE has officially published data for 100 cities, the EIE team has processed climate-relevant data across an initial sample of 3,000 cities to produce emission insights from approximately 95 million buildings and nearly 3 trillion kilometers traveled. 

Our analysis found that cities can have a huge impact in protecting our climate:

Making environmental information available will continue to be critical as cities, communities and companies worldwide band together to address climate change. We’re committed to doing our part, and want to extend our thanks to the forward-looking city officials and climate leaders collaborating with us on this project.

If you’d like to request EIE data for your city, let us know. And learn more about Google’s other sustainable efforts at sustainability.google.

Source: Google LatLong


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.