Behind the brand: Google

Back in September I read an article by Peter Salisbury about Google that made me think a little differently about the web. I had always known in the back of my mind that have a paper-free environment and no office meant that I was reducing my carbon emissions but by using Cloud Services for my entire digital life was just as bad because servers are on 24/7 keeping my data safe and available.

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Over the years so-called Green search engines have appeared, including Blackle which changed the display from white to black to save energy. Of course I did dismiss this as a little sensationalist because merely reducing energy used does not, a planet, save.

So, after reading the article by Peter Salisbury I had learned that Google are incredibly energy-efficient not just to be Earth-friendly but this has obvious financial benefits for them. Adorned on top of the Googleplex in California is a sea of solar panels making use of their climate. Their datacentre‘s around the world are making use of ‘free cooling’ by channeling the outside climates in to cool the servers. This is a company that is thinking AND doing, and more importantly they are aware of the impact they have on the world and acting responsibly.

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Now, they are inherently not a green company for sure, otherwise you would never throw out a perfectly good office fit-out only to bring in some brightly-coloured design classics in to your reception but acting responsibly is a lot more than I had expected and more than most corporations are doing.

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Google claims that using Gmail instead of your average email system is up to 80 times better for the environment. The reason? Cloud servers are leveraged 100 percent while average company servers never use their entire capacity and have processing overhead wasted. “Using Gmail for an entire year uses less energy than is required to manufacture a bottle of wine, drink the wine, ‘stuff a message in the bottle and throw it in the ocean'” (about 1.2 kg CO2).

Similarly, one minute of watching YouTube videos uses 0.00002 kWh of energy on Google’s side (without counting your computer that actually displays the video). To put that in context, it takes approximately 0.15 kWh to boil a full kettle, which means you could watch 7,500 minutes (125 hours) of YouTube videos for the same energy used.

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Something else that is quite amazing is that Google reuses everything, especially water. They are currently running two facilities that use 100 percent recycled water and they’re goal is to have all of their data centre’s using 80 percent recycled water this year. Incredible.

For a company that has 79.61% of the global search engine market share, this is good news to hear. Not only are they a massive search engine, but their email client is one of the largest webmail providers and this is powered by the same servers.

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I now feel a lot better about using Google for all of my data. Thank you Google.

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Having worked in design for the past decade, Daniel started as a discussion of timeless, modernist product design. Trained as a graphic designer, he also has an avid interest in typography. You can follow him on Twitter @ateliertally.