Environment

Auto Added by WPeMatico

Designing for human and environmental health

Imagine a world of abundance—a world where products are infinitely recycled and the design process itself begins with considering the health and well-being of people and the environment. Imagine those products flowing through an economy that is both profitable and stems depletion of raw materials. That’s the world we want for all of us, and Google is working with the experts who are getting us there.

This vision is embodied in a model called the circular economy—and achieving it requires changing our relationship to natural resources, as well as engagement from designers, material scientists, chemists, policy makers, industry partners and consumers. It requires the development of new materials and processes that optimize for human and environmental health, and capture more value from materials by keeping them in use longer.

Today, we published a joint white paper with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to share a vision for how safer chemistry and healthy materials are essential to unlocking the circular economy. For the past two years, we’ve partnered with The Ellen MacArthur Foundation on a range of circular economy issues and initiatives, and today’s paper is the next step in this partnership. It’s also the culmination of more than a decade of hands-on experience at Google in driving safer chemistry and healthy material innovation across supply chains.

Our Real Estate and Workplace Services team has been working to remove toxins from materials in our built environment for years. It started when we were opening new spaces and started asking questions about the “new space smell,” like carpeting and paint. The answers (or lack thereof) told us that we needed to do more to ensure that our expanded spaces were healthy and sustainable for our employees—and that the manufacturers we were working with knew what was in their materials.

At the same time, our consumer hardware business—like Pixel and Google Home—is rapidly expanding. The growth of our consumer hardware business means that we aren’t just applying this approach to building materials, but also to the manufacturing of consumer tech products, like phones and smart speakers. It also means that we have a responsibility to understand and address the impacts associated with material selection, production, transportation, use, serviceability and the recycling of our products.

We take this responsibility seriously, not only because it’s part of who we are at Google, but because we believe we must do so if we are going to realize sustainable, profitable enterprise. That’s why we’re investing in the creation and adoption of safer chemistry and healthy materials, and working to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

Go to Source

Posted by amiller in Blog, Environment

A new partnership to drive renewable energy growth in the U.S.

In our global search to find renewable energy for our data centers, we’ve long wanted to work with the state of Georgia. Solar is abundant and cost-competitive in the region, but until now the market rules did not allow companies like ours to purchase renewable energy. We’re pleased to announce that in partnership with Walmart, Target, Johnson & Johnson, and Google, the state of Georgia has approved a new program that would allow companies to buy renewable energy directly through the state’s largest utility, Georgia Power.

Through this program, Google will procure 78.8 megawatts (MW) of solar energy for our Douglas County, Georgia data center, as part of our effort to utilize renewable energy in every market where we operate. As we build and expand data centers and offices to meet growing demand for Google’s products, we constantly add renewable energy to our portfolio to match 100 percent of our energy use.

This program, the first of its kind in Georgia, greenlights the construction of two solar energy projects with a total capacity of 177MW. When these new projects become operational in 2019 and 2020, participating customers like us will be able to substitute a portion of our electricity bill with a fixed price matched to the production of renewable energy generated. This shows that providing a cost-competitive, fixed-price clean power option is not only good for the environment, it also makes business sense.

What we’ve accomplished in partnership with Georgia Power and other major corporate energy buyers in the region is a testament to the important role that businesses can play in unlocking access to renewable energy. We collaborated for over two years to help build this program, which passes the costs directly to corporate buyers, while adding more low-cost, renewable electricity to the state’s energy mix. This arrangement, and others like it throughout the country, help companies and utilities meet their renewable energy goals.

The program is a promising step forward as utilities begin to meet the growing demand for renewables by businesses everywhere. Today’s announcement shows how companies and utilities can work together to make that option available to all customers, regardless of varying energy needs.

And this is happening in other parts of the U.S. as well. We just broke ground on our new data center in Alabama and through a partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority, we’ll be able to scout new wind and solar projects locally and work with TVA to bring new renewable energy onto their electrical grid.

As we expand our data centers across the U.S. and globally, we will keep working with new partners to help make this a cost-effective choice available to everyone.

Go to Source

Posted by amiller in Blog, Environment, Infrastructure
Coming home to Alabama

Coming home to Alabama

Editor’s Note:Google is starting construction on our newest data center in Jackson County, Alabama. The new site marks a $600 million investment for our company and will bring as many as 100 high-skilled jobs to the community. This is part of Google’s expansion to 14 new data centers and offices across the country. Today, our head of global technology partnerships for Google Cloud, Dr. Nan Boden, spoke at the groundbreaking in Widows Creek, the site of a former coal-fired power plant where her father once worked.

Data centers are the engine of the internet. They help make technological advances around the world not only possible, but accessible to billions of people who use cloud services. Every day, more people are coming online, asking and answering big questions, and identifying new opportunities and solutions to bring about change.

Google_0111 (1).jpg

At the groundbreaking in Jackson County 

I help build global partnerships for Google Cloud, and we depend on our data centers to ensure that large companies, small businesses, students, educators, nonprofit organizations and individuals can access key services and tools in a fast and reliable way. 

Today, I participated in the groundbreaking of our newest data center in my home state of Alabama. I was born in Sheffield, raised in Athens and am a proud University of Alabama alum. My family roots run deep with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)—both my late father and grandfather were career TVA electricians. My father’s job at TVA gave me and my family a better life, and his personal focus on education created an even greater path to opportunity for me. 

That’s why I’m so proud that Google can help bring that same opportunity—for education and employment opportunities—to families here in Jackson County. As part of our commitment to this community, Google will donate $100,000 to the Jackson County School District for the growth and development of the region’s student STEM programs.

With the new data center, Jackson County will help deliver information to people all over the world. From an infrastructure perspective, this means focusing on how to best route data securely, reliably, and quickly. And that takes energy.

Since the 1960s, Widows Creek has generated energy for this region, and now we will use the plant’s many electric transmission lines to power our new data center. Thanks to our partnership with the TVA, we’ll be able to scout new wind and solar projects locally and work with TVA to bring new renewable energy onto their electrical grid. Ultimately, this helps Google to continue to purchase 100% renewable energy for our growing operations around the world.

Being a part of this groundbreaking, not far from where my father worked at a coal plant years ago, humbles and inspires me. My work at Google brought me home to Alabama, and now Google can call Alabama home, too.

Go to Source

Posted by amiller in Blog, Environment, Infrastructure
Coding for Conservation

Coding for Conservation

Working on the CS First team, I love finding ways to get more kids involved with computer science at a young age. Though when I was a kid growing up in Miami, I spent most of my time off computers and on the water, admiring the natural beauty of the surrounding beaches and mangrove forests.

I focused my studies and spare time on the environment, and how we could protect and preserve the habitats and creatures that made my home so special. I didn’t quite understand how coding and technology would further my goal of protecting the environment until I got to Google, where I’ve learned that computer science is actually a critical tool for conservation and sustainability.

Sarah Henderson_CS First.png

Sarah has a BA in Environmental Studies from NYU and is pictured here in Belize on a sea turtle tagging and monitoring project with Google.

To help more kids understand the connection between coding and the environment (and to celebrate Earth Day!) we’re teaming up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to invite students in grades 4-8 to create their own Google logo. Using Scratch, a block-based programming language, students will learn basic coding and stretch their design skills as they express their own ideas for protecting the planet.

To get ready to create their logo, students can watch videos to learn computer science concepts like sequencing and loops, practice analytical thinking and use creative problem solving skills. Those concepts and skills are the building blocks for developing technology that organizations like WWF and Google use in their efforts to protect the planet’s animals and natural environment. In fact, the themes of the logo activity—Sustainability and Wild Animals— were chosen to reflect those efforts.

I have long admired WWF’s mission to conserve nature and reduce threats to animals all over the world—they recently launched Wild Classroom, a free resource for educators to teach their students about the natural world. And as a Googler, I’m proud of the work our company has done to protect the environment: we’re committed to renewable energy adoption and energy efficiency, and have built free data tools to enable widespread solutions to issues like deforestation, overfishing and air pollution.

My hope is that this logo activity will show kids that learning to code can also mean protecting the environment. And this activity is for teachers, too. Along with CS First’s full curriculum, it gives teachers the tools they need to introduce computer science to students for the first time, as well as nurture students’ interest in computer science.

Go to Source

Posted by amiller in Blog, education, Environment
Meeting our match: Buying 100 percent renewable energy

Meeting our match: Buying 100 percent renewable energy

A little over a year ago, we announced that we were on track to purchase enough renewable energy to match all the electricity we consumed over the next year. We just completed the accounting for Google’s 2017 energy use and it’s official—we met our goal. Google’s total purchase of energy from sources like wind and solar exceeded the amount of electricity used by our operations around the world, including offices and data centers.

What do we mean by “matching” renewable energy? Over the course of 2017, across the globe, for every kilowatt hour of electricity we consumed, we purchased a kilowatt hour of renewable energy from a wind or solar farm that was built specifically for Google. This makes us the first public Cloud, and company of our size, to have achieved this feat.

Today, we have contracts to purchase three gigawatts (3GW) of output from renewable energy projects; no corporate purchaser buys more renewable energy than we do. To date, our renewable energy contracts have led to over $3 billion in new capital investment around the world.

The road to 100 percent

We’ve been working toward this goal for a long time. At the outset of last year, we felt confident that 2017 was the year we’d meet it. Every year, we sign contracts for new renewable energy generation projects in markets where we have operations. From the time we sign a contract, it takes one to two years to build the wind farm or solar field before it begins producing energy. In 2016, our operational projects produced enough renewables to cover 57 percent of the energy we used from global utilities. That same year, we signed a record number of new contracts for wind and solar developments that were still under construction. Those projects began operating in 2017—and that additional output of renewable energy was enough to cover more than 100 percent of what we used during the whole year.

We say that we “matched” our energy usage because it’s not yet possible to “power” a company of our scale by 100 percent renewable energy. It’s true that for every kilowatt-hour of energy we consume, we add a matching kilowatt-hour of renewable energy to a power grid somewhere. But that renewable energy may be produced in a different place, or at a different time, from where we’re running our data centers and offices. What’s important to us is that we are adding new clean energy sources to the electrical system, and that we’re buying that renewable energy in the same amount as what we’re consuming, globally and on an annual basis.

Google's data center in Eemshaven, The Netherlands.
Google’s data center in Eemshaven, The Netherlands.

Looking ahead

We’re building new data centers and offices, and as demand for Google products grows, so does our electricity load. We need to be constantly adding renewables to our portfolio to keep up. So we’ll keep signing contracts to buy more renewable energy. And in those regions where we can’t yet buy renewables, we’ll keep working on ways to help open the market. We also think every energy buyer—individuals and businesses alike—should be able to choose clean energy. We’re working with groups like the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance and Re-Source Platform to facilitate greater access to renewably-sourced energy.

This program has always been a first step for us, but it is an important milestone in our race to a carbon-free future. We do want to get to a point where renewables and other carbon-free energy sources actually power our operations every hour of every day. It will take a combination of technology, policy and new deal structures to get there, but we’re excited for the challenge. We can’t wait to get back to work.

Go to Source

Posted by amiller in Blog, Environment, Google Cloud, Infrastructure
The She Word: Winnie Lam, helping Google do the right thing for the planet

The She Word: Winnie Lam, helping Google do the right thing for the planet

Editor’s Note: The She Word is a Keyword series all about dynamic and creative women at Google. This week, Google and the World Wildlife Fund announced the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online. We sat down with Winnie Lam, who works on our environmental sustainability team, to learn more about this effort and what it means to be the “Captain of Earthly Elements” (her actual title) at Google.

IMG_50961.jpeg

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?
I’m responsible for environmental sustainability for Google data centers. My team’s job is to help Google do the right thing for the planet.

Have you always been interested in sustainability?
My dad’s first business was a car junkyard—he’d buy the cars that didn’t work and sell the parts. The concept of “reuse and recycle” was part of everything he did, and a big part of my upbringing. My whole family now works in that business.

Tell us about the years-long journey to the formation of the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online.
In 2012, I led an effort to ban the sale of ivory through Google ads and Google Shopping. I’m not an expert on the ivory issue, so I sought help from World Wildlife Fund, and we dreamed of getting other tech companies to ban ivory and illegal wildlife products. This vision started taking shape at an inaugural meeting with WWF and major tech companies to stop wildlife trafficking online. And now 21 companies across North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa have joined the fight against wildlife trafficking.

How One Googler Stopped People From Selling Ivory

Learn more about Winnie’s efforts to ban the sale of ivory through Google ads and Google Shopping

How’d you come up with your job title?
I gave myself the title “Captain of Earthly Elements,” because in my job, I work with the four classic elements: earth, water, air and fire.

You’ve been at Google for 13 years! What has kept you here?
I’ve had many roles over 13 years—from site reliability engineering to product management for our ads products to my current role. I’ve been very lucky that I can align personal and professional goals in the same job, and I’ve had several 20 percent projects (side projects that Googlers can dedicate part of their time to) that involve one of my biggest passions, animals. The effort to ban ivory started as a 20 percent project, actually.

w.jpg
Winnie’s handmade Halloween costume

Wow, what started as a 20 percent project is now a global coalition. Can you tell us about any other fun 20 percent projects?
For a few years, I recruited Googlers to go on a trip to Belize to measure the turtle population, along with scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society—that was a fun one.

What other things do you do in your free time?
I’m an artist and a musician. When I bought my house, I couldn’t find any furniture that I liked, so I decided to design my own. Now the environment is inspiration for my art—a couple of years ago when California was in an extreme drought, I dressed up as an artificial lawn for Halloween (handmade costume!). Couldn’t turn down the opportunity to make that statement.

What’s one habit that makes you successful?
I keep my eyes on the outcome, and always look for something in common with people. Not everyone cares about the environment as much as I do, but I can find common ground. For example, energy efficiency saves money, which can appeal to someone who works in finance, even if the environment isn’t a top priority for them.

What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?
There’s no career path—you invent it, it’s in your hands. Figure out what demand there is for the thing you’re passionate about, and how your skills and network can be used.

IMG_20111001_153734.jpg
Winnie and Jane Goodall

Who has been a strong female influence in your life?
I’ve had many mentors along the way. I grew up going to an all-girls school, so female influences were everywhere in my life. Women as leaders were the norm. I once met Jane Goodall at a conference and had 60-second conversation with her about my idea to approach chefs in San Francisco, and ask them to stop serving bluefin tuna at their restaurant. She looked at me and said, “That’s the only way to do it.” She gave me confidence and validation to keep going, and I haven’t stopped since.

Go to Source

Posted by amiller in Blog, Environment, Inside Google
Shedding light on solar potential in all 50 U.S. States

Shedding light on solar potential in all 50 U.S. States

Solar power is an abundant, low carbon source of electricity, but historically it has been more expensive than traditional electricity. With solar costs dropping dramatically, many people are starting to ask: does solar power make sense on my rooftop? In my town or state?  Since its initial launch in 2015, Project Sunroof has used imagery from Google Maps and Google Earth, 3D modeling and machine learning to help answer those questions accurately and at scale. For every building included in the data, Project Sunroof calculates the amount of sunlight received by each portion of the roof over the course of a year, taking into account weather patterns, position of the sun in the sky at different times of year, and shade from nearby obstructions like trees and tall buildings. Finally, the estimated sunlight is translated into energy production using industry standard models for solar installation performance.

Project Sunroof county-level coverage from 2015 – 2017

Today, Project Sunroof is helping answer those questions for more places than ever, with an expansion that brings Project Sunroof’s data coverage to every state in the U.S, with a total of approximately 60 million buildings analyzed. The expanded data reveals some fascinating insights about the solar energy opportunity nationwide:Seventy-nine percent of all rooftops analyzed are technically viable for solar, meaning those rooftops have enough unshaded area for solar panels.Over 90 percent of homes in Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico are technically viable, while states like Pennsylvania, Maine and Minnesota reach just above 60 percent viability. Houston, TX has the most solar potential of any U.S. city in the Project Sunroof data, with an estimated 18,940 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of rooftop solar generation potential per year. Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, and New York follow Houston for the top 5 solar potential cities — see the full top 10 list in the chart below.

To put the rooftop solar potential into perspective, the average U.S. home consumes 10,812 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year according to EIA. There are one million kWh in one gigawatt-hour (GWh). One GWh of energy is enough to supply power to 90 homes for an entire year.

If the top ten cities above reached their full rooftop solar potential, they’d produce enough energy to power 8 million homes across the US.

Sample of Project Sunroof solar energy potential map

This also means that if you’ve been thinking about going solar, there’s a much better chance there’s Project Sunroof data for your area. The Project Sunroof data explorer tool allows anyone to explore rooftop solar potential across U.S. zip codes, cities, counties and states. If you’re looking to learn about the solar and financial savings potential for your homes, the Project Sunroof savings estimator tool now covers 40x more buildings in the U.S. than when we launched it in 2015.

Visualization of solar potential at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA.

Almost 10 years ago, Google became an early adopter of rooftop solar, installing a 1.6 megawatt (MW) solar array at our headquarters in Mountain View, CA—the largest corporate solar installation of its kind at the time. Today, Project Sunroof combines Google’s longstanding interest in sustainability and renewable energy with unique, high-quality information about the potential of rooftop solar power. We’re proud to be expanding coverage of this project to help more people decide if solar makes sense for you.  

Powered by WPeMatico

Posted by amiller in Blog, Environment, Google Earth, Maps