It's a bold statement to be sure, but Google is making it in the company's first public disclosure of its total energy use: the company has had a carbon footprint of zero for well on four years now. That's even more impressive when you consider that Google needs a quarter of a nuclear power plant to keep all of its searches and gmails and whatnot going.
In a post on the company's blog, SVP of Technical Infrastructure Urs Hoelzle called streamlining energy use a decade-long "obsession," and that it's "been a carbon-neutral company since 2007, [and] even that small amount of energy is offset completely, so the carbon footprint of your life on Google is zero."
Google's data centers, which the company boasts use "half the electricity of a typical data center," require a continuous 260 million watts of power, or "about a quarter of the output of a nuclear power plant," according to The New York Times. Them's a lot of watts, but Google keeps it all in check by taking full advantage of renewable energy, as well as actively pursuing innovations that will keep its energy use down in the first place.
As an example, Google is offering up its newest data center completed in Hamina, Finland. Built in an old paper mill, Google designed a seawater cooling system for the location that means no need for high-energy refrigeration and the like. You can learn more about Google's Hamina data center in the video below.
It looks like Google is going to be transparent about its energy use going forward. The search engine giant has fired up "Google Green," which is exactly what it sounds: a site where you can learn about Google's green practices and why it's cool to wear shorts to work. Oh, Google!
It'll be interesting to see, now that all of this is out in the open, if Google's bold claims hold true.