Saturday, October 15, 2016

How Google Is Using Big Data to Protect the Environment

Google’s sustainability officer Kate Brandt outlines the company’s wide-range interest in sustainable fishing, green buildings, and renewable energy

Kate Brandt speaking at the 2016 SXSW Eco conference in Austin, Texas. (Photograph Credit: Diego Donamaria) Click to Enlarge.
[Google] invests billions to find new ways to use the power of computers:  it’s developing robots, virtual reality gear, and self-driving cars.  Remember all the hubbub about Google Glass?

Google has been using the same approach in sustainability – spreading its wealth in a variety of projects to cut its waste and carbon footprint, initiatives which may one day generate profits.  During the SXSW Eco conference this week, I caught up with Google’s sustainability officer, Kate Brandt, to find out more.  Brandt joined the company in July last year after serving as the nation’s chief sustainability officer in the Obama administration.

During her keynote at SXSW Eco in Austin, Texas, Brandt hit all the key environmental initiatives that Google had undertaken over the past decade – at least those that have been announced.  Some of the projects involve collecting and analyzing data that enable Google and other businesses to use more sustainable materials, reduce their environmental impact and cut emissions.

“When we think about the Third Industrial Revolution and the role Google played in it, we also think about the Fourth Industrial Revolution where this digital backbone could transform our relationship to the material world.  We would like to be a player,” she said during her keynote. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the buzz term for describing the deepening role that technology plays in our lives.

Understandably, Google is big on reducing energy use at its data centers.  Another often-cited effort:  the company is a big wind and solar energy investor, having signed 2.5 gigawatts worth of contracts around the world and, additionally, committed to investing $2.5bn in renewable energy, including owning stakes in power plants.  That makes the company the largest corporate renewable energy buyer if you don’t count utilities, Brandt said.

Read more at How Google Is Using Big Data to Protect the Environment

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