“We’ve eliminated our impact on climate change since 2007.” --Google
Behind Google’s powerful Internet search engine, its email, maps, images, and all the many uses the world finds for its products, is a business, like any other, but not like most others. I refer to Google Green
. A visit to Google’s website pages and to read about what the company has done and is doing to go beyond a ZERO carbon footprint will leave you breathless.
The green pages provide a comprehensive look at each of these areas of Google’s business “footprint”: data centers, renewable energy, on campus operations, offsets, carbon footprint, investments, and products. Each is worthy of an entire blog, but I chose to focus my attention on Google’s in-house and on campus operations and transportation
in particular. Google green encourages the “self-powered” commute, offers biodiesel shuttle buses for transporting employees to and from work, , and has the largest electric corporate car sharing program in the US.
Google provides incentives for employees who choose to walk, bike, skateboard, or kayak! to work by crediting employees for each commute with credits that are turned into donations to charities of the employee’s choice. Google’s fleet of buses exceed the EPA’s 2010 bus emission standards and as you might expect are equipped with wifi. More than one-third of Bay Area employees ride the bus.
Google’s making a major investment in their company vehicle fleet. The web page states, “Over the last several years, as new electric vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid technologies have arrived on the market, we've worked to build one of the most advanced corporate car sharing programs in the country at our Mountain View headquarters. This program, called the GFleet, serves two purposes. First, it provides Googlers with a low-carbon transportation option once they get to the office using alternative transportation (for instance, the Google shuttle, walking, biking, or carpooling). Second, we like to invest in promising, new, sustainable technologies and pilot them wherever possible on our campuses.”
“The GFleet is made up of Chevrolet Volts, Nissan LEAFs, Mitsubishi iMiEVs, Ford Focus Electrics, Ford Transit Connect Electrics, and a Honda Fit EV. We’ll continue adding models from other manufacturers as they become available. To juice up our GFleet cars, provide more charging options for EV-driving Googlers, and encourage more Googlers to make the switch to EVs, we've partnered with Coulomb Technologies to build the largest corporate EV charging infrastructure in the United States. Our 300 vehicle chargers include the latest fast-charging Level 2 chargers, and we have another 150 on the way.”
Google reports that between their bus shuttles and GFleet, they have achieved a net annual savings of more than 5400 metric tons of CO2. Put more simply, this translates to taking more than 2000 cars off the road or avoiding 14 million vehicle miles every year.
What does this all mean to public agency offices? We can’t all be Googles, but we can follow their exemplary leadership of innovation and commitment to lower our carbon footprints. Government agencies don’t replace their fleet of vehicles every year, but consider asking your fleet administrators to lease a hybrid or electric vehicle for employees to use for business travel in lieu of reimbursing mileage for their personal vehicles, a regular car rental, or taxi fare. We did and we cut greenhouse gas emissions and saved money, too. Encourage biking to work by offering the sales receipts from office fundraising efforts as a charitable donation for the employee who logs in the most miles in a month. Most of all, look outside the walls of your office to what the modern day inventors in your state, region, and cities are doing to go green that can inspire you and provide you with data to make your own business case for adopting a green strategy.