We’ve built a green transportation system that includes biodiesel shuttles and the largest corporate electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the country. Every day, our shuttles keep thousands of Googlers out of the driver's seat and reduce our impact on the environment. And GFleet—our car-sharing program for Googlers on campus—includes the newest generation of plug-in vehicles. We’re trying to tackle every possible reason our employees might drive a gas-fueled car to work.
Our shuttles and GFleet result in net annual savings of more than 5,400 metric tons of CO2. That’s like taking about 3,000 cars off the road or avoiding 40 million vehicle miles every year!
Because the shuttle system that serves commuters to our San Francisco Bay Area offices is so convenient and rider-friendly, Googlers often leave their cars at home (or don't own cars at all). About 4,500 Googlers take the shuttle to work on any given day, and our shuttle program is projected to hit 1.8 million rides in 2012.
In addition to an ultra comfortable ride, real-time location information, and wifi, our shuttles have the cleanest diesel engines ever built. In fact, Google is the first and largest company with a corporate coach fleet to exceed the EPA's 2010 bus emission standards. They run on 5% biodiesel and are fitted with filtration systems that eliminate many harmful emissions, including nitrogen oxide.
Over the last several years, as new electric vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid technologies have arrived on the market, we've worked to build one of the most advanced corporate car sharing programs in the country at our Mountain View headquarters. This program, called the GFleet, serves two purposes. First, it provides Googlers with a low-carbon transportation option once they get to the office using alternative transportation (for instance, the Google shuttle, walking, biking, or carpooling). Second, we like to invest in promising, new, sustainable technologies and pilot them wherever possible on our campuses.
The GFleet is made up of Chevrolet Volts, Nissan LEAFs, Mitsubishi iMiEVs, Ford Focus Electrics, Ford Transit Connect Electrics, and a Honda Fit EV. Googlers have driven our fleet of electric vehicles more than 220,000 miles, and we’ll continue adding models from other manufacturers as they become available. To juice up our GFleet cars, provide more charging options for EV-driving Googlers, and encourage more Googlers to make the switch to EVs, we've partnered with Coulomb Technologies to build the largest corporate EV charging infrastructure in the United States. Our 400 vehicle chargers include the latest fast-charging Level 2 chargers.
Hundreds of Googlers around the world get to work by foot, bike, unicycle, skateboard, scooter, and even kayak. Cycling to work is one mode of transportation we strongly encourage. This year, 3,000 Googlers in over 50 offices participated in the Google Bike to Work Day, our way of celebrating cycling commuters and introducing new riders to this transport option.
To encourage more self-powered commuting, we donate to Googlers' favorite charities based on how often they walk or bike to work. Each time employees self-power their commute, they collect a digital stamp. Stamps are turned into dollars that Google donates to a charity of the Googler's choosing. Googlers can donate up to $140 a quarter, and more than 2,000 Googlers donated to nearly 1,200 charities in 2011 alone.
Sustainably produced, local, seasonal, organic, gourmet. Google is committed to making healthy foods available free of charge to employees at all of our campuses worldwide. Through our food program, we're connecting Googlers to how and where their food is grown and harvested. As with many of our initiatives to support a sustainable workplace, keeping our employees healthy and happy just makes good business sense.
Google might be a global company, but when it comes to food, we go local. Local to us means within 200 miles of our offices. Food arrives fresher, we support local economies and small businesses, and we lower our environmental impact with less shipping.
We take time to get to know our suppliers—how they raise, farm, and harvest their food—and we often purchase directly from farms near our campuses. Our poultry is local and all-natural, and much of our produce grows on small farms such as Alba Organics in Watsonville, Ecopia Farms in Campbell, and Knoll Farm in Petaluma. We like that some farms, like Alba, also work to educate aspiring farmers how to farm organically. We purchase local, organic dairy from Straus Family Creamery in Marshall. Items like coffee that aren't harvested within 200 miles but are, well, necessary, are purchased as responsibly as possible. We purchase coffee from four local roasters all of whom buy from individual Fair Trade certified growers.
We're fortunate our headquarters is in Northern California where organic produce is abundant year-round. It makes it easier and more cost-efficient for us to support organic, farm-to-fork dining. We work hard to bring the same healthy-eating principles everywhere we operate around the world.
The Google Green Seafood program sets the benchmark for bringing local, fresh, and seasonal seafood into our cafes. This program uses even stricter guidelines than those recommended by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We partner with our wholesale purveyors to label seafood as Google Green, and maximize our spend to support local fisheries and the local fishing community. When purchasing wild fish, we only source from healthy, well-managed fisheries that are enforcing science-based catch limits. We also research and source responsibly farmed seafood. Our detailed seafood policy helps us focus on the source, catch method, and species of fish that we serve in our cafes—helping to educate Googlers while serving fresher, tastier seafood.
With all the effort we put into food procurement, we want to be thoughtful about how we reduce waste as well:
Data-driven purchasing: We analyze what's popular in our cafes plus what's in season to determine the right quantities of ingredients to buy. This helps us eliminate waste and ensure we’re providing a healthy, diverse offering at every meal.
Using real dishes and silverware: In our cafes, employees generally use non-disposable dishes and flatware. If they need to eat at their desks, they can leave dishes to be cleaned in any of the nearby micro-kitchens. This practice cuts down substantially on our use of disposable products.
Composting and recycling: Throughout our campuses are clearly marked recycling and composting bins, and any grab-and-go containers and flatware that are used are compostable. 20% of Google cafe waste is recycled, and the rest is composted.
Donating unused food: Any untouched, edible food goes to local shelters in our communities, such as the Homeless Veterans Emergency Housing Shelter and the Shelter Network.
We work hard to create the healthiest, most productive work environments possible for Googlers around the world. To do that, we approach buildings as living systems, designing in natural light and clean air, designing out harmful man-made chemicals, and using natural resources more intelligently. Our approach goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to designing buildings that are sustainable for local and global ecosystems.
We believe that a healthy work environment and a sustainable world begin with transparency and cooperation. A surprising number of chemicals have been incorporated into commonly used building materials without being assessed for their impact on human health. We’ve eliminated many of these chemicals in our buildings, and only use paints, sealants, adhesives, carpets, and furniture with the lowest levels of VOCs and formaldehyde possible. We also exclude toxic elements like lead and mercury. We actively seek sustainable materials that are locally manufactured, high in recycled content, and biodegradable.
At Google’s offices worldwide, we put all building products through a rigorous screening process to determine which adhere to our healthy building standards—and we purchase the products that best meet our stringent criteria.
We request full transparency from our vendors, requiring them to provide us with comprehensive product ingredient information from every point in the supply chain.
For products sold in North America, we also require vendors to share this information through the Pharos Project, an open source materials evaluation system. By doing so, that information becomes available to all other Pharos members who may be retrofitting or constructing a home, office, or commercial building so that more people can make informed product choices.
We partner with research institutions, government agencies, and public organizations, and reference publicly available frameworks such as the EPA’s “Chemicals of Concern” list and the Living Building Challenge’s “Red List” to inform our understanding of materials to avoid. Google is also one of the founding endorsers of the Health Product Declaration, the first open reporting standard for product content and associated health information for building materials. Each day, we are another step closer to reaching our goal of eliminating 100% of known toxics from our buildings.
In addition to our focus on creating healthy work environments, we pursue design and operational strategies that reduce energy and water use. We make every effort to heat, cool and light our offices—and power our computers—with the minimum amount of energy needed. We purchase Energy Star rated (or overseas equivalent) office equipment, and use sophisticated building control technologies to ensure systems are on only when we need them. We’ve installed solar electric and solar hot water panels on our roofs, treated water on-site for reuse, and used recycled municipal wastewater for other applications (e.g., toilet flushing and landscape watering).
In order to set goals and benchmark building performance, we often use 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. We’ve also created an internal program known as “Sustainable Pursuit” (based on the popular trivia game and the LEED framework) to measure and improve how we operate our buildings.
Teams at Google offices around the world compete for points depending on their site’s green performance. Through this program, our Real Estate & Workplace Services Green Team works closely with facility managers at Google offices worldwide to implement innovative, locally-appropriate strategies to reduce waste, save energy and water, and improve indoor environmental quality. We also make it a priority to document and share team innovations so that organizational knowledge is spread across all Google teams.
Highlights of our efforts include the following:
Solar power and advanced building controls in Mountain View, California: Our 1.7 MW solar installation supplies approximately 30% of our peak energy consumption on the buildings it covers, and we’ve implemented a building management system that monitors and controls campus-wide energy use.
Water recycling in Hyderabad, India and Sydney, Australia: In Hyderabad, roughly 380,000 gallons of waste water are treated and reused annually in non-potable systems (e.g. flushing toilets and landscaping). Similarly, our Sydney office (recently Green Star certified by the Green Building Council of Australia) treats and recycles waste water for toilet flushing and landscape irrigation.
Efficient heating and cooling In Zurich, Switzerland: A chilled beam heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) system uses significantly less energy to regulate building temperature while also occupying less space than conventional equipment.
Reducing energy use In New York City: We installed sub meters to measure the energy use of small work teams. We then held a competition among these teams and within a month, energy consumption declined by 10%.
LEED certification of our buildings globally: We have 31 LEED certified projects and millions more square feet in the works, as well as one Green Star certification (Australia’s LEED equivalent). For example, in our San Francisco office, we partnered with our landlord to make the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system operate more efficiently, one of the strategies that helped the office achieve LEED Gold certification. We’re also proud to have received the City of Mountain View’s first-ever LEED Platinum certification (the highest certification level possible), and the first published LEED project certification for commercial interiors in Argentina.