We’re reducing our environmental impact while expanding our business.
Carbon emissions are our barometer. Year after year, this one number tells us how we’re doing toward our ultimate goal: absolute carbon reduction.
In 2008 we set a goal to reduce our emissions by 15 percent by 2012, as compared to 2009 levels. During that time we increased the number of employees and customers, and fell short of our target. We revised our carbon strategy in 2014, and committed to reducing our total greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050, as compared to 2012 levels. By early 2016 we had surpassed our 2020 goal through our investment in and our partners’ commitments to renewable energy.
Amid global expansion, we’ve lowered our overall emissions by 4 percent while revenue grew by 31 percent from 2009-2015. We expect this trend to continue with further energy reduction measures and by sourcing less carbon intensive electricity.
We track and target all our emissions across all scopes, including those resulting from transportation and partners storing our data. This chart shows the origins of our 2015 emissions.
While we focus first on reducing energy use, sometimes the lights just need to be on. We invest globally in renewable power and build partnerships to ensure that we use the cleanest energy possible.
Since 2009, we’ve added a range of solar and fuel cell technologies at our Mountain View, Calif., headquarters and at our sites in San Diego, Tucson, Ariz., and Bangalore, India. These efforts provide up to one-third of the electricity consumed at these locations. Because we cannot generate enough electricity to fully power each of these sites, we have begun investing in off-site renewables. For example, our Plano, Texas site, the largest footprint of all our U.S. campuses, exclusively sources nearby wind power. This change at Plano reduced our 2015 global facilities footprint by 15 percent.
Working together we can do more. That’s why in 2015 we joined Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, a collection of more than 50 companies committed to expanding renewable electricity under the leadership of the World Wildlife Fund and World Resources Institute. Because so many companies share the same vision, we are all able to source renewable electricity more quickly and more affordably. We hope to build similar partnerships outside of renewable electricity.
Waste is our most visible environmental impact. We’re working to reduce the thousands of single-use items we use every day, such as paper cups and food containers. About 70 percent of the waste at our major sites was either recycled or composted in 2015 and we aim to hit 90 percent. To get there, we need everyone’s participation. Our employees take the same innovative approach that we use to design products to test zero-waste alternatives at our San Diego and Mountain View campuses. Testing new ideas and adapting quickly helps us meet the needs of our employees and the environment.
Buildings provide the greatest opportunity for directly reducing our emissions. At our sites across the globe, we have reduced building emissions 35 percent since 2009 and have set a goal of a 50 percent reduction by 2020.
As a company entrusted with financial data of millions of customers, data storage is a major component of our footprint. In 2012 we began consolidating our data center operations to our data center in Quincy, Wash. This site has since experienced 17 percent growth in operations and uses more electricity than all our buildings. But it also has one of the lowest carbon footprints—sourcing 89 percent of its energy from hydropower. Currently Quincy’s power usage effectiveness rating is 1.37 and the site has an Energy Star score of 98 out of 100.
We use a lot of water—about 60 million gallons each year. Since 2012 that consumption has increased 4 percent, due primarily to our data center in Quincy. A 17 percent growth in data center operations has required more water for cooling. Additionally, warmer weather has increased cooling demands.
Through efficiency and reduction measures, such as using recycled water, low-flow fixtures and climate-controlled irrigation, we decreased our campus water use by more than 30 percent at our larger sites between 2013 and 2015. At the same time, we face a significant challenge: 85 percent of our 7,700 employees work in drought-stricken regions.
Since 2011, we’ve adopted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) principles for all new buildings. As of mid-2016, we occupy 14 LEED-certified buildings – more than double the number from 2011. When completed, the two newest buildings at our Mountain View campus will be LEED-certified platinum – the highest level of certification. We are also investing in smart building technologies such as lighting and HVAC control systems. These solutions have reduced lighting energy consumption in Mountain View by 77 percent since 2014.
Designing buildings is not just about efficiency. They connect us to the communities where we live and work. While we create products for small businesses, we make an effort to support local businesses by purchasing their products and services whenever possible and making them a part of our campuses. For example, our Sydney, Australia office purchases fixtures from Koskela – a company that collaborates with aboriginal artisans and artists to craft beautifully designed and locally sourced furniture. Similarly in Singapore we use furniture built by d-Bodhi from reclaimed materials.