How Google’s data centers help Europe meet its sustainability goals

Imagine you’re standing in a data center. Think of it as where the internet lives. From the outside it may just look a bit like a warehouse. But on the inside you’ll find powerful servers, lots of blinking lights and very strict security protocols to keep the data we store and process safe. But there is so much more going on. Data centers store and process the data that keeps the digital world around you working — from letting you ask questions to Google Search to empowering businesses and services on Google Cloud, and even driving sustainability efforts.

As our Data Centers are not open to the public due to security reasons, we decided to bring them to our local communities by hosting a tour, where we demystified how data centers work, the role they play in society and how sustainability is baked into the work we do at these sites.

Some highlights:

We’re focussed on applying digitalisation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

A recent study from Implement Consulting Group has found that digital solutions are important enablers of affordable, cost-effective climate change mitigation at scale. Four main sectors (transport, buildings, manufacturing and agriculture) account for two-thirds of the EU’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and hold significant potential for digitally enabled climate mitigation and energy savings. In total, 20-25% of the GHG reductions needed for a net-zero EU economy will require some degree of digital enablement to happen at scale and at an acceptable social cost. When we take into consideration that European data centers are estimated to only account for 0,45-0,6% of EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, the absolute energy usage by data centers fades in comparison to the relative gains in emission reductions.

We operate among the most energy efficient data centers in the world

Climate change and our common responsibility to reduce carbon emissions is a generational challenge and was front of mind for this tour. While data centers admittedly require electricity to power the internet, Google has been investing heavily in reducing our carbon footprint for more than a decade. And since 2017, we’ve been matching our energy consumption every year with new additional renewable energy generated from solar and wind power. We continue our work to reduce our carbon footprint and by 2030, we’ve set the goal to be completely carbon free.

We’ve started new projects to support our local communities

During the Data Center Sustainability Tour we announced a string of projects aimed at supporting our data center communities and countries we operate in.

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