Founding Member Spotlight: Google

Each month, we feature a profile of one of our Founding Members, who are vital supporters of our work and programs. This month, we’re taking a look at a company you’ve all heard of – Google, which also has a presence in Cambridge, MA’s Kendall Square, one of our Target Cities projects.

One of the key reasons Google decided to stay and expand the footprint of their Cambridge, MA campus was the ability to contribute to the revitalization of the Kendall Square Ecodistrict. From adaptive reuse of an existing building to thoughtful material selections and the addition of a green roof, Google leads by example. The Kendall Square Ecodistrict is one of 10 pilot projects participating in EcoDistricts’ Target Cities, a two-year immersion program deploying the EcoDistricts Protocol to develop and deliver catalytic, district-scale sustainability strategies and next-generation urban redevelopment.

Google’s innovations in web search and advertising have made the brand one of the most recognized in the world. Sustainability is a part of Google’s culture and embedded throughout all functions in the company. When it comes to greening its real estate portfolio, Google applies the same focus that it does for its products: put the user first. Google wants to create the healthiest and most sustainable work environments where Googlers around the world can thrive and innovate. As the company continues to grow, it wants to have a positive impact on the surrounding community, neighbors, local and regional ecosystems, and all of their inhabitants—people, flora and fauna. Google values being as efficient as possible in everything it does, from powering data centers, to greening buildings and transportation programs, and supporting renewable power.


Image courtesy of Google
Image courtesy of Google

Greening our Datacenters

Google’s data center systems are designed to use as little energy as possible. The company installs smart temperature controls, uses “free-cooling” techniques like using outside air or reused water for cooling, and redesigns how power is distributed to reduce unnecessary energy loss. Google recycles 100% of the electronic equipment that leaves the data centers. They are the first major Internet services company to gain external certification of high environmental, workplace safety and energy management standards throughout the data centers. Specifically, Google received voluntary ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and ISO 50001 certifications.


Sustainability from Design and Construction to Operations

In setting goals and benchmarking performance of its campuses, Google uses proven industry frameworks such as the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program and the Living Building Challenge. Google has also created an internal program called “Sustainable Pursuit” (based on the popular trivia game and LEED framework) to measure and improve how campuses are operated globally. Through this program, the Real Estate & Workplace Services (REWS) Green Team works closely with facility managers worldwide to implement innovative, locally-appropriate strategies to reduce waste, save energy and water, and improve indoor environmental quality.


Image courtesy of Google
Image courtesy of Google

A Green Transportation Network

Google’s green transportation system includes biodiesel shuttles and the largest corporate electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the country. Every day, its shuttles keep thousands of Googlers out of the driver’s seat and reduce the impact on the environment. GFleet—the car-sharing program for Googlers on campus—includes the newest generation of plug-in electric vehicles. The company is trying to tackle every possible reason employees might drive a gas-fueled car to work and provide an alternative.


Renewable Energy Globally

Google strives to power the company with 100% renewable energy. They continue to increase the amount of renewable energy purchased to power operations and offset the remainder through high quality carbon offsets and renewable energy credits. Google has also invested over $1 billion in 2GW of renewable energy projects around the world. The company believes that by helping power more of the world with renewable energy, they’re creating a better future for everyone.


Improving Indoor Environmental Quality Initiatives Globally

Through the Healthy Materials program, Google puts all building products through a rigorous screening process to determine which adhere to healthy building standards. They’ve also spent 2.5 years developing indoor environmental quality design guidelines for the industry by working closely with practitioners and researchers to close the gap between research and best practices. The guidelines include air quality, daylighting and artificial lighting, acoustics, thermal comfort and biophilia.


Image courtesy of Google
Image courtesy of Google

Campus-Scale Strategies
Google’s Mountain View campus employs a number of systems at different scales. It has a 1.9 MW solar installation that supplies approximately 30% of peak energy use for the buildings it covers. The company has converted landscape irrigation to recycled municipal water, meaning that instead of an estimated 24 million gallons of potable water brought to campus through California’s complicated water system, it now uses recycled water from Mountain View. The campus also has a number of gardens where food is grown for the on-site cafes, as well as beehives that provide honey for the cafe and pollination for the gardens.