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Google Environmental Report 2018

Google has been carbon neutral for over a decade and in 2017 we purchased enough renewable energy to match 100 percent of our global consumption for operations.

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Operating our business in an environmentally sustainable way has always been a core value. We think there’s a lot to be proud of—but there’s also a lot more important work to do. We remain more committed than ever to the environment and will continue working hard for a cleaner, and better future for the generations to come.

This report contains data and information valid as of December 31, 2017.

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A girl and dog on a deck

Efficient data centers help us better serve our users, in a more sustainable way.

For more than a decade, we’ve worked to make Google data centers some of the most efficient in the world, improving their environmental performance even as demand for our products has dramatically risen. We’ve done this by designing, building, and operating each one to maximize efficient use of energy, water, and materials.

Squeezing more out of every watt.

To reduce energy use, we strive to build the world’s most energy-efficient computing network by squeezing more out of every watt of power we consume.

And our efforts have paid off: on average, a Google data center uses 50% less energy than a typical data center. One aspect of our efficient designs is PUE.

Learn more about our data center efficiency (opens in a new window)

Average power usage effectiveness (PUE) for all data centers
  • Trailing 12-month PUE
  • Quarterly PUE
PUE
  • 1.26
  • 1.22
  • 1.18
  • 1.14
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • These peaks happen in the summertime when additional energy is needed to cool the data centers.

  • Our fleet-wide PUE has stayed at or below 1.12 since 2013.

    In 2017, the average annual PUE for our global fleet of data centers was 1.11, compared with the industry average of 1.7—meaning our data centers use nearly six times less overhead energy.

  • The data center industry uses the measurement PUE, or power usage effectiveness, to measure efficiency. A PUE of 2.0 means that for every watt of IT power, an additional watt is consumed to cool and distribute power to the IT equipment. A PUE closer to 1.0 means nearly all of the energy is used for computing.

  • 1.11
Average power usage effectiveness (PUE) for all data centers
  • Trailing 12-month PUE
  • Quarterly PUE
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
PUE
  • 1.26
  • 1.22
  • 1.18
  • 1.14
  • These peaks happen in the summertime when additional energy is needed to cool the data centers.

  • Our fleet-wide PUE has stayed at or below 1.12 since 2013.

    In 2017, the average annual PUE for our global fleet of data centers was 1.11, compared with the industry average of 1.7—meaning our data centers use nearly six times less overhead energy.

  • The data center industry uses the measurement PUE, or power usage effectiveness, to measure efficiency. A PUE of 2.0 means that for every watt of IT power, an additional watt is consumed to cool and distribute power to the IT equipment. A PUE closer to 1.0 means nearly all of the energy is used for computing.

  • 1.11
Server rack in a Google data center
A male worker in a server room. looking down, lifting up a hatch in the floor

Certifiably smart energy management.

You can trust we’re using energy wisely, because Google was the first company in North America to achieve a multi-site ISO 50001 certified energy management system. In 2017, our ISO certification (which verifies we’re working to continually improve our energy efficiency) covered 12 Google-owned data centers, representing more than 96% of our IT energy use.

Helping technology live a long, productive life.

We’re committed to achieving Zero Waste to Landfill for our data center operations. We’re working towards this by reducing the amount of waste we generate by doing things like refurbishing and remanufacturing hardware, and reducing the amount of waste we generate, and finding better disposal options—like recycling and reselling.

In 2017, we diverted 91% of waste from our global data center operations away from landfills.

Learn more about our Zero Waste to Landfill goal
Chart of Google's circular economy
  1. Google's Data Centers
  2. Recycle
  3. Refurbish
  4. Reuse
Man and woman standing in front of solar panels

Spotlight story

Positive energy: Belgium site becomes first Google data center to add on-site solar

Saint-Ghislain engineers help make one of Google’s most efficient data centers even more efficient.

Accelerating the transition to renewable energy.

We’ve made it a top priority not only to become more energy efficient, but also to ensure that the energy we purchase comes from clean sources such as renewables. Our support for clean energy goes hand in hand with reducing our carbon footprint. By improving the efficiency of our operations and buying both renewable power and high-quality carbon offsets, we’ve been carbon neutral since 2007.

  • Aerial view of a snaking green river through a tan desert

    2007

    We committed to carbon neutrality and purchased enough carbon offsets to bring our net annual emissions to zero for the first time.

    Overhead view of some of the buildings making up Google's Mountain View campus A man and a woman riding green and yellow Google bikes on Google's campus

    At our Bay Area headquarters, we installed a 1.6 megawatt (MW) rooftop solar installation—the largest corporate solar array at the time.

  • Aerial view of the green and brown farms at the Story County II Iowa windfarm

    2010

    We made our first purchase of renewable energy for our operations by signing a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Story County II wind farm in Iowa.

    Aerial view of the Pearl Garden wind farm in North Dakota Solar panels collecting sunlight in a desert

    We also began contributing to growing the clean energy market by making our first renewable energy equity investment with a $39 million commitment to the 170 MW Peace Garden wind farm in North Dakota.

  • Elevated view of wind turbines in green rolling hills

    2014

    We surpassed a cumulative total of 1 GW of renewable energy purchased for our operations.

  • Solar panel farm in the desert framed against a background of mountains Close-up, aerial view of a wind turbine

    2015

    Our cumulative commitments reached $2.5 billion in renewable energy equity investments.

  • Elevated view of wind turbines in green rolling hills

    2016

    We signed PPAs for 564 MW of renewable energy, bringing us to a cumulative total of 20 PPAs for more than 2.6GW of renewable energy.

  • Close-up, aerial view of a solar panels collecting solar rays

    2017

    We reached 10 consecutive years of carbon neutrality and have purchased enough renewable energy in 2017 to match 100% of our global consumption for operations.

    Lone windmill in a field against a sunset sky
    Girl and dog look out from a deck

Over 10 years ago, we became carbon neutral—in collaboration with great partners.

In the last decade, we’ve partnered with more than 40 carbon offset projects to offset more than 17 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Learn more about our carbon offsets program (opens in a new window)
1
0
M

metric tons of CO2 emissions offset

Outside photo of the Google Data Center in Taiwan

Spotlight story

Unlocking access to corporate renewable energy purchasing in Taiwan

Taiwan’s Electricity Act will allow us to supply our data center in Taiwan with a long-term source of renewable energy at a fixed price.

Read the story (opens in a new window)

Creating sustainable workplaces is good for people and the environment.

We focus on the user when we’re designing products, and we focus on our employees when we’re creating the healthiest possible workplaces.

Creating sustainable workplaces

By the end of 2017, over 1 million square meters (11.1 million square feet) of Google office facilities had achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Learn more about healthy materials(opens in a new window)

Cumulative LEED-certified office space
  • Platinum
  • Gold
  • Silver
M2
  • 1.0M
  • 0.8M
  • 0.6M
  • 0.4M
  • 0.2M
  • 2011

    Platinum: 17%
    Gold: 69%
    Silver: 14%

    2011
  • 2012

    Platinum: 19%
    Gold: 75%
    Silver: 6%

    2012
  • 2013

    Platinum: 23%
    Gold: 63%
    Silver: 14%

    2013
  • 2014

    Platinum: 26%
    Gold: 59%
    Silver: 15%

    2014
  • 2015

    Platinum: 31%
    Gold: 58%
    Silver: 11%

    2015
  • 2016

    Platinum: 34%
    Gold: 54%
    Silver: 12%

    2016
Cumulative LEED-certified office space
  • Platinum
  • Gold
  • Silver
Square Meters
  • 1.0M
  • 0.8M
  • 0.6M
  • 0.4M
  • 0.2M
  • 2011

    Square Meters LEED Certified
    Platinum: 17%
    Gold: 69%
    Silver: 14%

    2011
  • 2012

    Square Meters LEED Certified
    Platinum: 19%
    Gold: 75%
    Silver: 6%

    2012
  • 2013

    Square Meters LEED Certified
    Platinum: 23%
    Gold: 63%
    Silver: 14%

    2013
  • 2014

    Square Meters LEED Certified
    Platinum: 26%
    Gold: 59%
    Silver: 15%

    2014
  • 2015

    Square Meters LEED Certified
    Platinum: 31%
    Gold: 58%
    Silver: 11%

    2015
  • 2016

    Square Meters LEED Certified
    Platinum: 34%
    Gold: 54%
    Silver: 12%

    2016
  • 2017

    Square Meters LEED Certified
    Platinum: 28%
    Gold: 56%
    Silver: 16%

    2017
Cumulative LEED-certified office space from 2011 to 2016
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Platinum 17% 19% 23% 26% 31% 34%
Gold 69% 75% 63% 59% 58% 54%
Silver 14% 6% 14% 15% 11% 12%
Young man standing between two shelves of various produce, looking down at his clipboard
Back of a person in black scrubs weighing food on a grey metal cart

Food you don’t buy is food you don’t waste.

Tracking data and making adjustments in our cafés helped us avoid more than 1 million kilograms (2.3 million pounds) of food waste in our cafés around the world.

Learn more about how we reduce food waste (opens in a new window)

A ride shared is a resource spared.

By using Google shuttles and corporate electric vehicles in the Bay Area in 2017, we saved more than 33,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions—equivalent to taking 6,500 cars off the road every day for a year.

Carbon dioxide emissions avoided =

6
.
0
K

cars off the road every day

A green landscape next to an urban concrete walkway.

Spotlight story

Ecologically focused landscapes are coming to life on Google campuses

Google’s Ecology Program focuses on expanding wildlife habitat, creating diverse landscapes that can withstand the stresses of climate change, and restoring many of the ecological functions lost with the development of office parks across the Valley.

Read the story (opens in a new window)

Empowering users with technology means we can do more, together.

We meet the challenges posed by climate change by working to empower everyone—businesses, governments, nonprofit organizations, communities, and individuals—to use Google technology to create a more sustainable world.

Making the switch to save big.

Businesses that switch from locally hosted solutions to G Suite have reported reductions in IT energy use and carbon emissions up to 85%.

8
0
%

potential savings in IT energy use

Close up of the black Nest Learning Thermostat
A young child in a colorful yellow sweatshirt watering houseplants sitting atop a table under a nest thermostat

Creating smarter homes to use less energy.

The Nest Learning Thermostat uses learning algorithms and smart control of residential heating and cooling systems to reduce home energy consumption. As of December 31, 2017, Nest Thermostats have helped customers save more than 17 billion kWh of energy combined, based on average savings studies—enough energy to power all of San Francisco's electricity consumption for three years.

Learn more about Nest (opens in a new window)

Fish in an aquarium

Spotlight story

Transparency unleashed: How Global Fishing Watch is transforming fishery management

From helping establish “no-take” marine reserves like Revillagigedo to cracking down on illegal fishing in Indonesian waters, researchers, governments, and fishery organizations have started using the GFW platform and data in historic new ways.

Read the story (opens in a new window)