Google: Our Carbon Footprint is Zero

Paul Lilly

You would think that with all the services Google offers, and in particular its hugely popular search and Gmail services, that Mother Nature would have a beef with all the energy being expended. You'd also be wrong, according to Google, which is making the claim that it's been carbon-neutral since 2007, and even the small amount of energy it does use is offset completely.

"We started the process of getting to zero by making sure our operations use as little energy as possible. For the last decade, energy use has been an obsession," Google explains in a blog post . "We’ve designed and built some of the most efficient servers and data centers in the world—using half the electricity of a typical data center. Our newest facility in Hamina, Finland, opening this weekend, uses a unique seawater cooling system that requires very little electricity."

Google says it uses renewable energy whenever possible, such as employing large solar panels at its Mountain View campus and purchasing the output of a pair of wind farms to power its data centers.

"But we're not stopping there. By investing hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy projects and companies, we're helping to create 1.7GW of renewable power," Google claims. "That's the same amount of energy used to power over 350,000 homes, and far more than what our operations consume."

Google's zero carbon footprint claim is a lot to take in when you consider how popular many of its services are. Just imagine if Google went belly-up overnight and flipped the switch on search, Gmail, YouTube, Google+, Google Docs, and everything else. The Internet would be turned upside down, and that's because Google runs part of the show. Nevertheless, Google says its servers use less energy per user than leaving a light on for 3 hours.

Want some hard numbers? Google provides those and more in a new section of its Google Green site called ' The Big Picture ,' and also in this study (PDF) .

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