How our cloud does more with less

9/8/11 | 9:00:00 AM

(cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

We’ve worked hard to reduce the amount of energy our services use. In fact, to provide you with Google products for a month—not just search, but Google+, Gmail, YouTube and everything else we have to offer—our servers use less energy per user than a light left on for three hours. And, because we’ve been a carbon-neutral company since 2007, even that small amount of energy is offset completely, so the carbon footprint of your life on Google is zero.

We’ve learned a lot in the process of reducing our environmental impact, so we’ve added a new section called “The Big Picture” to our Google Green site with numbers on our annual energy use and carbon footprint.

We started the process of getting to zero by making sure our operations use as little energy as possible. For the last decade, energy use has been an obsession. We’ve designed and built some of the most efficient servers and data centers in the world—using half the electricity of a typical data center. Our newest facility in Hamina, Finland, opening this weekend, uses a unique seawater cooling system that requires very little electricity.

Whenever possible, we use renewable energy. We have a large solar panel installation at our Mountain View campus, and we’ve purchased the output of two wind farms to power our data centers. For the greenhouse gas emissions we can’t eliminate, we purchase high-quality carbon offsets.

But we’re not stopping there. By investing hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy projects and companies, we’re helping to create 1.7 GW of renewable power. That’s the same amount of energy used to power over 350,000 homes, and far more than what our operations consume.

Finally, our products can help people reduce their own carbon footprints. The study (PDF) we released yesterday on Gmail is just one example of how cloud-based services can be much more energy efficient than locally hosted services helping businesses cut their electricity bills.

Visit our Google Green site to find out more.