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Google's Environmental Footprint

written by: Arnold Zafra•edited by: Misty Faucheux•updated: 9/9/2009

Our environment is at a point of no return. Every individual must act now in their own little ways to help protect and preserve the environment we all live in. Google, despite its corporate successes, is still taking baby steps to protect the environment. Here are three of these programs.

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    The Climate Savers Computing Initiative

    Google had begun acting for the environment as early as 2007. That’s when it started cooperating with other members of the community in the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. This initiative promotes efficient computing and aims to cut energy consumption by computers in half by 2010. The group hopes to reduce global CO2 emissions by 54 million tons per year.

    The initiative also aims to promote development, deployment and adoption of smart technologies to improve energy efficiency of computers. The members of this group initiated by Google vowed to produce products that adhere to specified power-efficiency targets as well as to purchase power-efficient computing products. With 2010 just around the corner, Google and Climate Savers Computing Initiative have so many things to report that we can only hope that the group has been able to achieve their goals.

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    Google's Energy Efficient Data Centers

    To show its commitment to the Climate Savers Computing Initiative and to respond to some critics who say that a search uses a lot of energy, Google reported about its energy efficient data centers. Google compared the amount of energy consumed by doing a Google search to the amount of energy consumed by Google to answer a search query. Google claimed that the amount of energy used by its data centers is half of the energy used by a typical data center.

    Specifically, the energy used by Google to answer a query is only around 1kJ (0.0003kWh) of energy. In addition, Google also claims that web searches often take the place of more carbon-and time-intensive activities, such as driving a car or navigating through the throngs of shoppers in a busy shopping mall.

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    Other Environment-Friendly Initiatives

    Aside from these two main environmental initiatives, Google through its philantrophic unit: has invested $45 million in support of breakthrough clean energy technologies. It has also recently embarked on the Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal Initiative (RE<C), which aims to explore renewable and clean energy sources.

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    These are certainly baby steps if we are to take into account how pressing the environmental problems that we are facing right now. But, even baby steps when combined with other baby steps can go a long way if done seriously and efficiently by business corporations, such as Google.

    Hopefully, other major Internet players and computing companies will follow if not strengthen their current initiatives. We need everyone to act no matter how small they are if we want to succeed in protecting our environment and ensuring the future of our children.