Google is Green

By mike_danhofmike_danhof (1261366528|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

I found this blog post from the Official Google Blog from my Google Reader, and it seemed like the perfect way to transition from my first page to my new page, and the new direction of my blogs.

gse_multipart53168.png

First, I find reading the blog posts from the Official Google Blog can be very insightful. They give a broad view of what is going on at Google, overall improvements and innovations they have made, and more. I highly recommend subscribing to their RSS feed here. Also, if you have any interest in following other blogs written by Google employees, a list can be found here. But now, onto the blog post.

Summary

Just to give a brief summary of the article, Google decided to tell people about all the green initiatives they have at their headquarters in Mountain View, California. This is part of an even larger movement, called Blog Action Day, in which Google has taken a very active role. As part of this, Google has taken many steps to be as green in as many ways as possible to put actions to their words. Many employees bike and walk to work, and they can earn points for this, and those points can be converted into money that will go to their favorite charity. Google also has a shuttle that is powered by B20 Biodiesel. They also have solar panels on their roof, which I think they explain the best in their own words:

Turning on the lights: The rooftops at our headquarters are covered in 9,212 photovoltaic solar panels that produce 1.6 MW of electricity — enough energy to power about 1,000 California homes.

Clicking on the link about their solar panels brings up information on how much power they are generating, which is very interesting.

Google does some of the traditional "green" initiatives, such as providing electric cars for their employees to get around town during work hours, separating compost from landfill waste, and using as much "cradle-to-cradle" products, which are designed to never end up in a landfill. However, true to Google's somewhat counterculture, they have even used goats to "mow" the grass at the headquarters.

Here is a short video about Google's green initiatives, in the words of some of their employees:

To read the whole blog article, click here.

Reaction

For me, it is great to see a company like Google taking steps to be green. Many people do not think about how much energy Google actually has to use on a daily basis. But, with hundreds upon hundreds of servers filled with data, which run 24/7/365, huge headquarters that house thousands of employees who all use computers, it all adds up. (To read an interesting article on how much pollution a Google search puts out, click here. The short story? Some scientists claim it takes as much energy to boil a kettle of tea as it does for one Google search).

It is also encouraging to see the company take steps to be healthy and green, such as by using PVC and formaldehyde-free building materials, extensive use of daylighting, and fresh-air (not forced air) ventilation. In many ways, this contributes to the well-being of both the environment and employees. It has been shown in many studies that having a greener building actually leads to greater productivity of employees (and who can argue that with Google?).

It is my hope that Google will use their initiatives to inspire and encourage other companies to take steps to be more green in as many ways as possible in the future. Many high tech companies use a lot of energy, but are not as obvious about it, in comparison to physical-products manufacturers, like chemical companies, who also have a lot of pressure to reduce pollution.

Final Thoughts

What I would like to see is Google becoming completely self-sufficient in terms of energy usage. With headquarters in southern California, they have ample sun and wind to create a large amount electricity. However, I would also like to see what they have done specifically to make their building green. I have not been able to find anything about how green the building really is, such as any LEED level certifications, Energy Star compliance, and the like. I think with more research I may be able to find it, but I find it a bit strange that they wouldn't talk about it in this post, unless the building is much less green than they make it out to be.

For the future, I hope that Google will be able to help me find out more about both what they have done to be green with their building and those benefits, as well as all the other companies out there that are moving to be more green, and how that has benefited them, both in terms of money and their employees.

End Note

Their Going Green page gives a lot of information about what they are doing on many fronts, from efficient computing to reducing their carbon footprint.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License