Employees eat lunch outside the Googleplex, Google's Menlo Park headquarters.
After 10 years of operating as a “carbon neutral” company, Google announced yesterday they will be using 100% renewable energy by the end of the 2017 calendar year. The California-based search and web giant was founded in 1998. This year’s continued energy efficiency efforts mean it will have spent more than half of its existence as a “carbon neutral” company or better.
What is carbon neutrality? Much of human activity releases harmful carbon gases into the environment, either directly or indirectly. The practice of carbon neutrality involves offsetting one’s emissions by doing things that reduce atmospheric carbon, such as planting trees.
Google is known for its distinctly creative approach to achieving carbon neutrality. Since it operates in California, the company and its surrounding community are at risk for seasonal bush fires. So, in 2009, Google announced it was deploying a herd of goats (yes… goats!) to help trim the grass around its enormous headquarters. Among other things, goats are known to emit less carbon than lawnmowers ;)
Google has announced that it “continuously uses enough electricity to power 200,000 homes”, only 5% of which goes to its online search servers (!). In order to satisfy this enormous electricity demand with renewable energy, Google has gone to great lengths to find new energy sources, becoming one of the world’s largest renewable energy buyers in the process.
The bulk of Google’s energy consumption comes from its data centres, which power its major services such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, YouTube and others. Thus, Google has also set out to accomplish a “zero waste to landfill” objective for its data centres. Half of its 14 data centres have already accomplished this objective.