Google pledges carbon neutrality by 2008

Google is pledging to be a carbon neutral operation by the beginning of next year.

Google pledges carbon neutrality by 2008

The announcement was one of many emphasising the company’s green credentials made at the Google Press Day in Paris. ‘This is an important step in our long-term pursuit of holistic environmental solutions,’ said Google’s senior vice president of operations, Urs Hoelzle.

The company claimed it has already made great strides with environmentally-friendly technology – its 1.6 megawatt solar panel at its MountainView headquarters, for example, is believed to be the largest of its kind in the US.

Hoelzle said Google was particularly looking to tackle the environmental impact of its data centres. These huge server farms not only consume vast amounts of energy to drive the machines in the first place, but require additional energy to cool them down.

To this end, the company has already implemented evaporative cooling. By taking “grey water” from a nearby canal, for example, the company’s Belgian data centre is kept sufficiently cool by running water under special cooling plates.

It is a much more energy-efficient approach, Hoelzle claimed, and he said Google data centres use 50% less energy than normal.

Rechargeable car batteries

Hoelzle also listed how – the company’s philanthropic arm – is investing in rechargeable car batteries for the company fleet, and how provides free bicycles to its employees and runs the largest US corporate shuttle bus service.

The plan to neutralise Google’s carbon footprint by 2008 has three elements. As well as reducing existing energy consumption by maximising efficiency, it will invest in and use renewable energy sources, and then purchase carbon offsets for the emissions that it can’t reduce directly.

Google also combined with Intel to spearhead the ‘Climate Savers Computing Initiative’ earlier this month. The program requires a 90 per cent efficiency standard for power supplies, which is another factor in maximising energy efficiency.

You can read more on Google’s green moves on the Google Blog, in a post by Urs Hoelzle.

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