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Google greens the cloud with new sustainability efforts

Google unveils new customer tools, data integrations aimed at raising sustainability awareness, energy usage

As the global economy demand more from the cloud, cloud users should be mindful of how much energy they need. That’s the message this week from Google during its virtual Google Cloud Next ’21 event. Google unveiled new sustainability initiatives including new tools to help customers mitigate environment impact, green improvements to the Google Earth engine and a new green data partnership initiative.

New green tools for Google users

Carbon Footprint is a new tool available to every Google Cloud Platform (GCP) user. Google said this new tool shows its customers the gross carbon emissions associated with the electricity of their cloud usage. 

“With growing requirements for Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) reporting, companies are looking for ways to show their employees, boards and customers their progress against climate targets. Using Carbon Footprint, you have access to the gross energy related emissions data you need for internal carbon inventories and external carbon disclosures, with one click,” explained Google’s Chris Talbott and Joel Conkling in a blog post.

Google Cloud users will now be able to assess the sustainability impact of their projects using Active Assist Recommender, which includes the new category. Starting with Google Cloud’s Unattended Project Recommender, users can estimate their gross carbon emissions savings, based on removing idle resources from the cloud.

“Unattended Project Recommender uses machine learning to identify, with a high degree of confidence, projects that are likely abandoned based on API and networking activity, billing, usage of cloud services and other signals, and provides actionable recommendations on how to remediate those abandoned projects,” said Google.

Google Earth Engine goes green

Google also announced a preview of Google Earth Engine as part of the GCP. Google Earth Engine is a geospatial analysis platform for science, learning and non-profit use. 

Earth Engine — different from the Google Earth app — hosts satellite imagery in a public data archive that includes 40 years of historical records. Earth Engine is updated daily with new content, which is available for global data-mining using APIs and other tools for large dataset analysis.

“Over the past year we’ve worked with a number of organizations to use Earth Engine technology with tools like BigQuery and the Cloud AI Platform to develop new solutions for responsible commodity sourcing, sustainable land management and carbon emissions reduction. Earth Engine enables companies to track, monitor and predict changes in the Earth’s surface due to extreme weather events or human-caused activities, thus helping them save on operational costs, mitigate and better manage risks, and become more resilient to climate change threats. This new offering will wrap the unique data, insights and functionality of Earth Engine with a fully-managed, enterprise-grade experience and reliability,” said Google.

New green data integration

Google said it has expanded its partnerships with sustainability-focused data businesses including CARTO, Climate Engine, Geotab, NGIS, and Planet. The goal, said Google, is to accelerate sustainability programs in global businesses and governments, inform decisions on future growth and better understand the impacts of climate change.

“By integrating water availability, agricultural data, weather risks, and extensive daily satellite imagery into Earth Engine and BigQuery, you can achieve more ambitious goals for the sustainability of your business and our planet,” said Google.

The program adds 50 petabytes of satellite imagery, demographics, mobility and telematics data to Google Cloud, including a new Spatial extension for Google’s BigQuery data warehouse which enhances BigQuery with spatial data, analysis, and visualization.

Google isn’t the only company eyeing green data center initiatives as a way of driving efficiency. Belgian telco Proximus and HCL Technologies recently announced a partnership to transform Proximus’ data center business using a hybrid cloud architecture. The businesses promise a lower C02 footprint and better operating efficiency with a lower total cost of ownership. 

Improving efficiency and lowering energy requirements was also recently on the mind of Huawei rotating chairman Ken Hu, who recently urged the telecommunications industry to increase efforts to deliver relevant 5G use cases for enterprises.

“On one hand, we have a great opportunity to help all industries cut emissions and improve power efficiency with digital technology,” Hu said. “On the other hand, we have to recognize that our industry has a growing carbon footprint, and we have to take steps to improve that. Right now Huawei is using new materials and algorithms to lower the power consumption of our products, and we’re remodeling sites, and optimizing power management in our data centers for greater efficiency.”


Peter Cohen
Peter is a Technology Editor for RCR Wireless News whose coverage areas include hyperscalers, telco cloud, edge computing, and data centers. Before joining RCR, Peter was a freelance writer with a background in tech journalism. He worked as a senior editor for Macworld magazine, editor at and has contributed to many other tech publications. He and his family live in Massachusetts.

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