Google Green

Campus operations

A closer look

We commute sustainably

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 29,000 metric tons of CO2. That’s like taking about 5,700 cars off the road or avoiding 87 million vehicle miles every year!

Video: Moving sustainably

Google shuttle

High-tech, low-impact employee shuttles

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 6,400 Googlers take the shuttle to work on any given day, and our shuttle program hit 2.5 million rides in 2013.

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.

Video: Our electric vehicle fleet

The largest electric corporate car sharing program in the US

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, and a Honda Fit EV. Googlers have driven our fleet of electric vehicles more than 1,500,000 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. We have electric vehicles charging at hundreds of parking spaces across our Mountain View headquarters and eleven other Google locations. On an average day, we complete over 1000 charging sessions. We also support efforts that promote workplace charging, for example we’re a charter member of the U.S. Department of Energy's Workplace Charging Challenge.

Self-powered commuter

Cycling to work

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, over 3,700 Googlers in 26 offices participated in the Google Bike to Work Day, our way of celebrating cycling commuters and introducing new riders to this transport option.

We take food seriously

We source delicious, flavorful food that is produced in the most responsible way possible. We optimize based on where food is produced, whether it is in season or organically grown, and how it is distributed. We choose partners who operate sustainably and share our values. We’re committed to serving only sustainable seafood, and we’re thoughtful about reducing waste. As with many of our initiatives to support a sustainable workplace, keeping our employees healthy and happy just makes good business sense.

Google community garden

Sourcing food responsibly

Every day, Googlers around the world enjoy a variety of healthy, flavorful and seasonal food for free. While we don't have a one-size-fits-all approach across our locations, we strive to build sustainability into each aspect of our food program.

Across all of our cafes worldwide, we are building partnerships that support responsible business practices. We take time to get to know our suppliers—how they raise, farm, and harvest their food. For example, in Northern California we partner with a range of farms and suppliers. We purchase local, organic dairy from Clover Stornetta Farms in Sonoma County. We partner with local farms, like Alba Organics and Pie Ranch, who are working to educate aspiring farmers and consumers on responsible farming methods. We also partner with Driscolls, a very large berry producer who brings organic methods to conventional farming, and Kingsburg Orchards, a stone fruit farmer who uses integrated pest management practices. Additionally, Googlers enjoy a great cup of coffee, so we purchase only from roasters who offer clear traceability into where their beans come from and how they are grown.

These are just a few examples of what we do at our headquarters in Northern California. We work hard to bring the same responsible sourcing practices everywhere we operate around the world.

Crabs

Supporting sustainable seafood

The oceans are one of our greatest resources, covering more than 70% of the world's surface. They are the original source of most of our food chain, and protecting the ocean ecosystem is therefore a critical environmental priority. At Google, we’re committed to serving sustainable seafood from local, fresh, and seasonal sources. We also source from responsibly-managed aquaculture or wild-capture fisheries. Our detailed seafood policy focuses on the source, the ways fish are caught, and species of fish that we serve in our cafes. This allows us to serve fresher, tastier seafood while supporting a sustainable food system.

Compost and recycling bins

Reducing waste

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 is sent to local shelters and food banks in our communities.

We build sustainably

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.

Video: Building sustainably

Lobby with plant wall

Eliminating toxics through Google’s Healthy Materials Program

We believe that a healthy work environment and a sustainable world begin with transparency and cooperation. A surprising number of chemicals of concern 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. We actively seek sustainable materials that are locally manufactured, high in recycled content, and biodegradable.

At Google’s offices worldwide, we put all building materials and 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.

  1. We request full transparency from our manufacturers and vendors, requiring them to provide us with comprehensive product ingredient information from every point in the supply chain.

  2. 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 other third party standards such as LEED and Living Building Challenge to inform our understanding of chemicals of concern and 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 toxic substances from our buildings.

Lobby with color decorations

Designing smart buildings

Our focus on creating healthy environments doesn’t stop with the building materials in our offices. We make every effort to address the factors that impact people’s experience of indoor environments, such as thermal comfort, daylight and access to views. We also provide aggressive performance benchmarks for energy and water consumption. We 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). We have the aspirational goal of diverting 99% of construction waste from our projects.

Outdoor patio

Measuring performance

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 sustainable initiatives. 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 1.9 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.
  • Reducing water usage in light of California drought: When the drought started, we had already been participating with the California Best Building Challenge, targeting 20% reductions on already high performing buildings in energy, water and waste. We undertook a huge effort to convert our landscape irrigation to recycled municipal water (purple pipe), saving an estimated 24 million gallons of potable water for the year. We’ve also been replacing water-intensive turf with drought-friendly native landscaping all over campus, as well as replacing showerheads and faucets in favor of low-flow ones. In light of the drought, we've upped the ante to a 30% reduction. We’re also on track for the 20% reductions in waste and energy.
  • Water recycling in Hyderabad, Sydney and New York: In Hyderabad, roughly 380,000 gallons of wastewater 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. The New York office installed a system to capture and use groundwater that was being pumped into the sewer system since the building opened in 1932, replacing 20%-60% of potable cooling-tower water.
  • Reducing energy use in New York City: We are participating in the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge and have reduced the carbon footprint of the office by more than 15% in the first year of the challenge. More projects are on the way to further reduce energy usage, including chiller upgrades, lighting controls and wall insulation. We are also currently installing what will be some of the highest thermal-performing windows in the world.
  • 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.
  • Rainwater harvesting system in Dublin, Ireland: A rainwater harvesting unit collects, filters, and treats rainwater to be used for toilet flushing for the bathrooms in the building. It is estimated to gather 157,350 gallons annually (25% of the water demand) at our Dublin office.
  • Urban agriculture across offices: Several Google offices, including New York, Pittsburgh and Mountain View, have taken up urban agriculture. Several have small gardens that supply fresh greens to the onsite cafes. Some even allow Googlers to pick their salad straight from the plant to reinforce where the food comes from. New York and Pittsburgh also host beehives that help pollinate the gardens and provide honey for the cafes, not to mention fighting the disappearance of honeybees by maintaining strong, managed hives.
  • LEED certification of our buildings globally: We have over 4 million square feet of LEED certified buildings, 1.2 million of which is Platinum (highest level possible) and 2.6 million Gold, with more in the works. We also have one Green Star certification (Australia’s LEED equivalent). Our office in Dublin achieved Ireland’s first Platinum certification and our Buenos Aires office achieved the first LEED certification in Argentina.