July 29, 2015

Google Pledges to White House to Combat Climate Change

Two forests in the shape of human lungs, with one suffering from deforestation.
The need to work towards a healthier planet.  Image from Green Business Guide.























By Megan G.

Climate change is one of the most controversial topics in America.  Two days ago, the White House took a stand on the subject with 13 American companies at its back. 

This past Monday, July 27th, the Obama Administration launched the American Business Act on Climate, gaining pledges from 13 large companies across the nation to go green (or greener) in an effort to combat the warming of the planet.

The tech giants Google, Apple, and Microsoft joined the fray, and you can find all of their individual pledges on the White House Fact Sheet.  As usual, the Tek Team will focus on our favorite internet company--Google.


A melting glacier bobbing in water in the shape of the word, "Google."
Earth Day Google Doodle circa 2007, the same year the company became carbon neutral. 
Image from Google

This past Monday, July 27th, the Obama Administration launched the American Business Act on Climate, gaining pledges from 13 large companies across the nation to go green (or greener) in an effort to combat the warming of the planet.  The tech giants Google, Apple, and Microsoft joined the fray, and you can find all of their individual pledges on the White House Fact Sheet


As usual, the Tek Team will focus on our favorite internet company:  

It’s no secret that Google is a huge supporter of energy efficiency and other green practices, a fact emphasized in both their Official Google Blog post and the Fact Sheet.  They have also received accolades for their efforts from organizations like EPA and Greenpeace.

On Monday, Google pledged to the White House that the company would specifically strive to:

  • Power operations with 100% renewable energy.  Google currently operates with only 35% renewable energy.
  • Triple renewable energy purchases to power their Data Centers by 2025.  Google Data Centers are currently much more efficient than the average tech data center for reasons I’ll detail later in this post.
  • Google shuttles and corporate electric vehicles save 29,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere.  Google pushes their employees to use shuttles, carpool, public transit, bikes, and their own two feet to get to their destinations even more than the environmentally-conscious Googlers already do.
  • Reduce water consumption by 30%.  The tech company plans to do this through recycled water irrigation, landscaping with drought tolerant plants and less turf grass, as well as promoting employee awareness of their own consumption.
  • Google Products and Platforms that provide data and spread the word.  The Google Earth Engine has over 40 years of satellite imagery documenting climate change that can be made available to scientists and researchers.  The company has also launched the Climate Data Initiative, which provides one petabyte of cloud storage data and climate/weather models. 

Wind turbines rotating over two rows of solar panels under a lovely blue sky.
Solar panels and wind farm turbines.  Image from Watts Up With That?
If you take a look at the Fact Sheet, you’ll notice that Google seems to be the most ambitious of the three tech companies involved in the initiative.  Though it should be noted that Microsoft and Apple have pledged to take on huge endeavors for the planet, both striving to operate on 100% renewable energy while lessening their emissions.

It comes as no surprise that Google would have so much to offer in terms of going green--the internet company is now newbie to the eco-friendly game.

Check out what the internet company is already doing to lessen their carbon footprint and create a greener, more sustainable world:

  • Google has been carbon neutral since 2007.  Being “carbon neutral” means Google does not release excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  This can be achieved by planting more trees to offset CO2 emissions.    
  • Google Data Centers use 50% less energy than most other tech companies.  Their Data Centers store and process Google products such as Gmail, Google Docs, Google Photos, and more—that’s a ton of data if you consider how many people use Google’s services. 
  • Google keeps these processes efficient by building their own custom data centers focused on efficiency, controlling the temperatures of the center, cooling their equipment with water instead of chillers, and recycling as many pieces of tech as they can. 
  • Google has funded $2 billion in renewable energy projects.  On top of using renewable energy sources to conduct their own business, Google has invested in 20 third party companies dedicated to gathering renewable energy.  You can find a full list of these solar energy companies and wind farms on Google’s Renewable Energy Investments page.  One company has even repurposed an oil and gas field to build a solar energy plant!
  • Their products make way for users to live greener lives.  Google Maps, Google+, YouTube, and the Cloud Platform… help the environment?  This one may seem like a stretch, but if you visit the Products section of the Google Green page, the fog of doubt begins to clear.  As the webpage says,
“Whether you’re a commuter looking for safe ways to bike to work or a small business owner seeking greener email solutions, our [Google] products help you live a better life while also being good to the environment.”   

The Gmail Logo on top of a cartoon cloud, surrounded by cartoon representations of businesses.
An example of the efficiency of cloud computing.  Image from Google Green.
Everyday apps like Google Maps promote cleaner transportation by providing the best routes for cars, bikes, public transit, and even pedestrians.  Google+ and YouTube are great resources for news stories, educational information, and opinions on climate change, the environment, and green practices.

The Cloud Platform, however, is the most directly effective Google product in terms of energy efficiency—actually, that goes for any cloud computing platform out there.

In general, working on any cloud computing platform means businesses and developers can scale computing needs as their work grows, without the need to build extra servers.  Pair that fact with Google Data Centers, and Cloud Platform users can be sure their data storage and processing is happening in a responsible, environmentally-friendly way.

Google has wasted no time putting their plans into action.  Just today, July 29th, TechCrunch reports that the internet company has begun mapping air pollution with their Street View cars!  Google has been working with San Francisco startup Aclima for a little over a year, attaching their air-quality sensors to those funny Google cars you see rolling around.

A unique addition to the Internet of Things, these Aclima sensors open up a "whole new world of opportunities to make our cities healthier, not just smarter," according to the CEO of Aclima, Davida Herzl.  The Tek Team cannot wait to see more results and advancements as Google works against climate change.

What do you think of Google’s current progress in going green and this White House initiative?  What green practices to you participate in on a daily basis?  The Tek Team would love to know!  Leave a comment below.

1 comment:

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