- Google campuses may be best known for their fun quirks – like having massive slides in a number of them.
- But over the years, the company has made strides to make its offices not only fun to work in, but environmentally friendly as well.
- From cutting down on food wastes to harvesting its own honey, below are ten ways Google offices around the world are working towards being more sustainable.
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Google campuses may be best known for their fun quirks – like having massive slides in a number of them. But over the years, the company has made strides to make its offices not only entertaining, but environmentally friendly as well.
With offices in over 160 cities housing over 98,000 employees, Google’s carbon footprint – from an operational perspective – has the potential to be huge.
Knowing this, the company has come up with creative ways to cut down on things like food waste, car emissions, and even, how much honey it has to buy for its cafes.
Here are ten ways Google offices around the world are working towards being more sustainable:
1. Google offers its employees a colourful fleet of bikes — known as Gbikes — to help them get around its Mountain View campus.
The GBike program started in 2007 and today, has over 1,000 bikes in its fleet. According to a Wall Street Journal report, though, over 100 bikes go missing each week from Google’s campus, showing up at local schools, neighbours lawns, and even, one time, on the roof of a local sports bar.
The scattered Gbikes throughout the city could be seen as an eyesore, but according to The Journal’s report, many residents have embraced them and ride the bikes around town themselves. Even Mountain View’s mayor said he once rode a Gbike to the local movie theatre after a meeting at Google, according to the report.
The company says each Gbike is ridden for about 3 miles per day.
Other campuses offer eco-friendly modes of transport to employees as well, including standup paddleboards in Seattle, push scooters in New York City, and kayaks in Sydney.
2. Google makes it a priority to purchase “imperfect” fruits and vegetables.
The company says that some of this produce would ordinarily go to waste because it doesn’t meet the aesthetic expectations of grocery stores even though it’s “perfectly delicious and healthy on the inside.”
In 2018, Google says it used over one million pounds of imperfect produce – including carrots, tomatoes, peppers, bananas, and more.
3. Twenty-five Google offices around the world use space on their campuses to grow their own food.
The company says these gardens have produced tomatoes, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, peas, oregano, sage, and much more.
Google’s food team uses the fresh produce in the meals it prepares for employees.
4. Mountain View employees are harvesting their own honey.
Employees at the company’s headquarters founded Google’s first ever bee colony in 2010. Today, employees tend to the colonies and harvest the honey, which is used in the company’s on-campus cafes.
Google’s Toronto and Amsterdam offices have also taken to the idea, setting up their own bee colonies as well.
5. To cut back on the number of cars on the road, Google offers shuttle services to its Mountain View headquarters.
In the Bay Area, around one-third of Google employees take company shuttles to work each day.
Google says its Bay Area shuttles result in more than 40,000 metric tons of CO2 saved per year, which is the equivalent of taking 8,760 cars off the road every day.
6. Google grows some of its produce more efficiently by using hydroponics.
Google has a 40-foot shipping container on its Mountain View campus fully equipped with a hydroponic growing system. The company says that by using LED lights and nutrient-rich water, it can grow produce – like lettuce – in the shipping container using less water and energy waste than traditional agriculture.
Google calls its hydroponics grow system the Leafy Green Machine.
7. Google’s food team works to minimise food wastes.
The company uses a system called LeanPath in more than 160 cafes across 22 countries to better understand exactly how much food is being wasted.
LeanPath uses cameras to take pictures of food that gets thrown away by employees or by staff during prep. The system also has a scale that weighs the food waste and a tablet for a team member to enter additional information. With all this data, kitchen teams can make necessary adjustments – like scaling back the purchase of certain ingredients.
Since 2014, Google estimates that its avoided more than 6 million pounds of food waste by using LeanPath.
8. Google tries to be animal-friendly.
In 2012, an alligator moved into the cooling pond at its South Carolina data center.
Instead of relocating her, Google allowed the gator to stay and watched her grow from four feet to ten feet long. They even gave her a name, “Allie.”
Today, Allie still inhabits the pond alongside a number of her baby gators.
9. Google’s new Bay Area office will use geothermal technology to warm itself up in the winter and keep it cool in the summer.
Google’s Bay View campus, which is under construction, will use geothermal heat pumps to absorb heat from the ground in the winter and sends excess heat from the offices into the ground to be stored for later use.
The company says the geothermal heat pumps will eliminate the need to heat buildings with natural gas.
10. Google uses reclaimed building materials when possible.
In its recently opened Playa Vista, California, office the company converted the historic Spruce Goose Hangar, which was originally built in 1943 to construct planes, helicopters, and artillery. Instead of constructing an entirely new office, Google restored much of the historic elements of the space.
With a similar “reuse” strategy in mind, the company’s Pittsburgh office is also built in what used to be a Nabisco Cookie Factory.
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