Lone windmill in a field against a partly cloudy sky Solar panel farm in the desert framed against a background of mountains

Google Environmental Report 2017

2016 was a year of big milestones.
We celebrated 10 years of carbon neutrality and announced that we would purchase enough renewable energy in 2017 to match 100 percent of our global consumption for operations.

View full PDF (opens in a new window)

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 Dec. 31, 2016.

Lone windmill in a field against a partly cloudy sky
A young woman in a Google office open space, standing against a green wall, focused on the notebook in her hands

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
  • These peaks happen in the summertime when additional energy is needed to cool the data centers.

  • Our fleet-wide PUE has stayed constant at 1.12 for the past five years.

    In 2016, the average annual PUE for our global fleet of data centers was 1.12, 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.

  • 1.12
Average power usage effectiveness (PUE) for all data centers
  • Trailing 12-month PUE
  • Quarterly PUE
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
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 constant at 1.12 for the past five years.

    In 2016, the average annual PUE for our global fleet of data centers was 1.12, 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.

  • 1.12
A male worker in a server room. looking down, lifting up a hatch in the floor
Close up of a server rack in a Google data center

Certifiably smart energy management.

Google was the first company in North America to achieve a multi-site ISO 50001 certified energy management system. In 2016, our ISO certification (which verifies we’re working to continually improve our energy efficiency) covered 12 Google-owned data centers, representing 98% 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 doing things like refurbishing and remanufacturing hardware, reducing the amount of waste we generate, and finding better disposal options—like recycling and reselling.

In 2016, we diverted 86% of waste from our global data center operations away from landfills.

Learn more about our Zero Waste to Landfill goal
  1. Google's Data Centers
  2. Recycle
  3. Refurbish
  4. Reuse
Extreme close up of a four servers and their network wires

Spotlight story

TPUs: Big resource savings in a small package.

Machine learning puts the oomph in many of Google’s popular applications and it requires a lot of compute power.

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
    We reached 10 consecutive years of carbon neutrality and announced that we would purchase enough renewable energy in 2017 to match 100% of our global consumption for operations.
    Lone windmill in a field against a partly cloudy sky

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 16 million metric 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

Close up, aerial view of a wind turbine

Spotlight story

Going Dutch on Wind Energy.

Google joined forces with three Dutch companies—AkzoNobel, DSM, and Philips— to collectively source power from two new wind projects in the Netherlands.

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.

Designing a healthy workplace.

As of the end of 2016, 865,494 square meters (9.3 million square feet) of Google office facilities have achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. We apply industry-leading green building standards wherever possible and use resources such as Portico, a product database and workflow tool we developed in partnership with the Healthy Building Network, to help evaluate non-toxic materials.

Learn more about our tool for healthy building(opens in a new window)

Cumulative LEED-certified office space
  • Platinum
  • Gold
  • Silver
M2
  • 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
  • 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
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.

We’ve learned that the best way to reduce food waste is to prevent it in the first place. Tracking data and making adjustments in our cafés helped us avoid 700,000 kilograms (1.5 million pounds) of food waste.

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 2016, we saved 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

Mural of the Chicago theater marquee in Google's Chicago office

Spotlight story

Fulton Market: Building a workplace that works

Google Chicago, also known as Fulton Market, is the first Google office to receive the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Materials Petal Certification and is currently the largest LBC-certified project in the world.

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 from 65% 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. Multiple studies conducted by Nest and third parties show that, on average, the Nest Thermostat saves U.S. customers about 10%-12% on their heating bills and about 15% on their cooling bills.

Learn more about Nest (opens in a new window)

Google Maps Street View car with it's air sensor mounted to the top on a street in a suburban neighborhood

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Project Air View: Making the invisible visible

Project Air View began when the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) asked Google to help it map thousands of methane leaks from natural gas pipelines under select U.S. city streets, using our Street View cars equipped with methane analyzers.