Google Green

A better web.
Better for the environment.

At Google, we've worked hard to minimize the environmental impact of our services. In fact, when we provide an active user one month of Google services, we use less energy than driving a car one mile. If you add in our renewable energy and offsets, our footprint is zero. And we continue to find new ways to reduce our impact even further. Learn more about our efforts below.

By the numbers

Our carbon
footprint: 2012

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A Google user

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Our carbon footprint & electricity consumption: 2012

The table above shows Google's carbon footprint for 2012, before we offset our emissions. We are providing our emissions inventory in two ways: without including our green power purchase agreements and including them. We also calculated our 2012 electricity consumption, which was 3,324,818 MWh, including on-site generation. Through the purchase of high-quality carbon offsets, we bring our carbon footprint to zero.

Verified by Cameron-Cole; Sources

A Google user

If you take an active Google user—someone who does 25 searches and watches 60 minutes of YouTube a day, has a Gmail account and uses our other services—Google emits about 8 grams of carbon per day to serve that user. In other words, serving a Google user for a month is like driving a car one mile. And after we offset our footprint to zero, it's like not driving a car at all.

Sources

Data centers that save energy

Our data centers are some of the most efficient in the world. Specifically, our data centers use only 50% of the energy of most other data centers. In addition to reducing our impact on the environment, our efficient data center designs have saved us over a billion dollars to date. In fact, according to an independent study, Google uses very little of the world's electricity (less than 0.01%). Additionally, we're the first major Internet services company to gain external certification of our high environmental and energy management standards throughout our data centers.

Data center electricity consumption

Google uses a very small portion of global electricity. In an independent report, Stanford consulting professor Jonathan Koomey estimates that data centers use between 1.1% and 1.5% of global electricity (Growth in data center energy use 2005-2010). From our own accounting, we know that Google's data centers use about 1% of Koomey's worldwide data center estimate. This makes Google responsible for about 0.01% of global electricity use.

More info on Google's data centers

Measuring PUE

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Managing airflow

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Adjusting the thermostat

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Utilize free cooling

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Optimize power distribution

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Best practices

There are many simple design choices that you can apply to both small and large data centers to improve the efficiency of the facility. Here are the top 5 recommended best practices from our data center experts.

Measuring PUE

The first step to improving a data center's efficiency is measuring it. Power usage effectiveness, or PUE, is an industry-recognized ratio to measure efficiency. Find out how Google has measured our efficiency to improve performance over time.

More info on measuring PUE

Managing airflow

Good air flow management is fundamental to efficient data center operation. Find out how Google keeps the hot and cold areas separate, fills empty slots in the server racks, and takes other actions to improve efficiency.

More info on managing airflow

Adjusting the thermostat

It's a myth that data centers need to be kept chilly. You can raise the cold aisle of a data center to 80°F or higher, and this will significantly reduce facility energy use.

More info on adjusting the thermostat

Utilize free cooling

"Free cooling" is removing heat from your facility without using a large air-conditioner, or chiller. This is done by using cold air from the outside, evaporating water, or using other things available around the data center. Avoiding the need for mechanical chillers is the largest opportunity for energy and cost savings.

More info on utilizing free cooling

Optimize power distribution

By minimizing how many times we convert power from one type of electrical current to another, Google has seen significant savings in energy and cost.

More info on optimizing power distribution

Data center best practices

In this case study, we explain how others can apply some of the efficiency measures we've used to reduce costs and environmental impacts from our data centers. Some of our best practices include keeping hot and cold areas separate, raising the temperature in certain sections, and using cold air from the outside for cooling.

Inside Google's data centers

Google builds data centers with efficiency in mind so we can reduce environmental impact and save cost. Find out how we build our data centers, use renewable energy, and work with others in our industry.

Explore Google's data centers

Greening our power

Currently, very little of the world’s power is from renewables like wind and solar. We're working on changing that by buying electricity directly from wind farms near our data centers. We're also working with our utility partners to find solutions that will make more renewable energy available for us and for others. All of these initiatives help us get clean energy at competitive prices and the wind farm owners get the money they need to finance new clean energy facilities. Together we make the grid a little bit greener.

  • 2010

    Renewables in Google's Grid: 19%

  • 2011

    Renewables in Google's Grid: >25%

  • 2012

    Renewables in Google's Grid: >35%

Greening the grid through renewable energy purchases

Power purchase agreements, or PPAs, are contracts to buy energy. We use PPAs to buy that energy from clean sources — such as wind farms — near our data centers. These long-term contracts are good for the environment, as well as good for our business.

More info on greening the grid through renewable energy

Google's green PPAs: what, how and why

One way we purchase clean energy is via power purchase agreements, or ‘PPAs’, because they create new clean energy now as well as help the renewable energy industry grow in the long-term. Learn more about PPAs and why we think they are one valuable solution for purchasing renewable energy.

Expanding renewable energy options for companies

We are working with our utility providers on another way to purchase clean energy, via a “renewable energy tariff.” A renewable energy tariff is a new choice in electricity service that would give Google and other large electricity consumers the option of purchasing renewable energy directly from our local utilities. Learn more about renewable energy tariffs and why we think they are another valuable solution for purchasing renewable energy.

On our own turf

Our commitment to reducing environmental impact extends to our offices worldwide. Most of our on-campus green initiatives were started by Googlers, and have now grown into company-wide efforts. From the solar panels on our roofs to our bike-to-work program, these initiatives eliminate the equivalent of more than 21,500 metric tons of CO2 per year.

Powered by renewables

1.9 MW of solar panels produce over 3
million kWh of clean energy

every year at our
Mountain View campus.

Commuting sustainably

4,000 cars off the road

as a result of our shuttle program and
electric vehicle charging stations, equiva-
lent to over 71,000,000 vehicle miles per year.

Greening our buildings

2.5 million sq. ft.

of building space achieved
LEED green certification status.

Commuting sustainably

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Greening our buildings

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Sourcing our food locally

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Commuting sustainably

With thousands of Googlers commuting every work day, the carbon footprint of employee transportation is something we work hard to minimize. Learn more about the ways we encourage Googlers to stay out of the driver's seat and reward low-carbon commuting.

More info on commuting sustainably

Greening our buildings

Our buildings are designed and constructed to create as healthy and environmentally-friendly a workplace for our employees as possible, so they can thrive and innovate. We're also constantly experimenting to find new ways of improving our work environment.

More info on building sustainably

Sourcing our food locally

We take food seriously at Google because we care about the health of our employees and our impact on the environment. We do everything we can to buy local, organic, sustainable food from farms and fisheries within 200 miles of our offices around the globe.

More info on eating sustainably

Carbon offsets: getting to zero

Even after our efforts in efficiency and renewable energy, we still impact the environment. To eliminate our impact on climate change, we invest in projects that reduce carbon emissions at another source outside of Google. We're very picky because we want to make sure that our investment has a positive impact that wouldn’t have happened without us. For example, we pay for reductions in emissions from a landfill near our data center. By investing in these projects, our total climate impact ends up being zero. This means that all of our products and services are carbon neutral.

What is a carbon offset?

A carbon offset reduces the total level of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, an offset is generated when a farm captures and destroys its emissions rather than releasing them into the atmosphere. This reduces its total impact on the environment. Because carbon offsets vary a lot, Google makes sure to buy very high quality offsets to create lasting positive impact on the environment. Carbon offsets are an important part of reducing our impact on climate change to zero.

Google's carbon offsets

Follow along as we visit examples of carbon offset projects. These projects help us bring our impact on climate change down to zero. When we purchase a carbon offset we make sure we're getting quality offsets that provide real, long-term carbon reductions.

Google's carbon offsets

Until we can eliminate all our emissions through efficiency and renewable energy, we buy carbon offsets. We buy offsets that improve the global environment in a way that wouldn’t have happened without our investment. We also ensure they are verified by a third-party to confirm that the carbon reductions are real and credible. This paper explores the thinking behind our rigorous approach to carbon offsets and the standards we use to ensure we only purchase quality offsets.

Our footprint: beyond zero

Our efforts in efficiency, buying clean energy and purchasing carbon offsets bring our carbon footprint down to zero. We're going beyond carbon neutral by committing over $1 billion to renewable energy projects that create far more renewable energy for the world than we consume as a company. In addition, our products enable our users to save energy themselves.

  • With efficient
    data centers

    Through our efficiency
    efforts, we have reduced
    our energy use by 50%.

  • With renewable energy
    and carbon offsets

    Through the purchase of renewable
    energy and carbon offsets we
    reduce our emissions to 0.

  • Investments

    We invest in renewable energy
    projects that enable the
    reduction of carbon for the
    rest of the world.

  • Our products

    We also develop products that
    allow our users to be greener.

Renewable energy for
everyone else

In addition to investing in renewable energy for our own operations, we’re investing in renewable power projects to grow the industry as a whole. Specifically, we've committed over $1 billion to renewable energy projects such as large-scale wind and rooftop solar. When added up, these projects represent a total capacity of over 2 GW, which is far more electricity than we use. To put this in context, this electricity is equivalent to that consumed by more than 500,000 homes.

You can save energy too

Google products provide over 100 billion searches every month, map information for over 1 billion monthly users, and host over 5 million businesses in the cloud. In addition to being carbon neutral, Google’s products can help you reduce your impact on the environment. Find out how.

For the energy a single small business uses to
host its email locally, approximately 80
businesses could be hosted in the cloud.

The environmental benefits of the cloud

Using Gmail is more energy efficient than using email hosted on local servers (such as on a server in your office or room). This is because Gmail is hosted in the cloud, which is large, so it can more efficiently allocate resources among many users. Plus, our cloud-based services are engineered to run on efficient software and hardware (servers). Our servers are housed in data centers that we’ve spent a lot of time making as efficient as possible. If you're interested in more details, here's the math.

More info about how you can use Google products to be green

Google's green computing: efficiency at scale

The annual carbon footprint of a Gmail user can be 80 times smaller than that of an email user at a business using locally-hosted email servers. This paper explains how the energy efficiency improvements, streamlined operations, and better server utilization offered by cloud-based email make this possible.