Google has announced more ways on how people can use their products to make sustainable choices as part of their ongoing commitment to sustainability. Updates on Search, new features to book flights or purchase appliances that have lower carbon footprints, a Nest program to support clean energy from home, and eco-friendly routing on Google Maps were part of this recent announcement.
Surfacing Credible Information on Search
When people come to Google Search with questions about climate change, the search engine will show authoritative information from sources like the United Nations, in addition to the existing news sources that they surface — all part of their goal to help one billion people make more sustainable choices by 2022.
Travel & Shop More Sustainably
Carbon emissions information is now available in Google Flights. People will be able to see associated carbon emissions per seat for every flight and quickly find lower-carbon options. When searching for hotels, information on the hotels’ sustainability efforts will be shown, from waste reduction and water conservation measures to whether they’re Green Key or EarthCheck certified.
Google is also helping people make more sustainable choices when they shop, starting with home appliances. When searching for energy-intensive products like dishwashers or water heaters, suggestions in the Shopping tab will help narrow search results to cost-effective and sustainable options.
Supporting Clean Energy from Home
For over a decade, Nest thermostats have helped people save energy at home. Google is taking these efforts a step further with a new service called Nest Renew. Using a feature called Energy Shift, compatible Nest thermostats can help users automatically shift electricity usage for heating and cooling to times when energy is cleaner or less expensive. For those who want to do more to help support the growth of clean energy, Google will offer a paid subscription option, Renew Premium, that will match your fossil fuel electricity at home with high-quality renewable energy credits generated from the same projects in Google’s energy portfolio.
Getting Around More Sustainably
Google Maps will let people choose the most fuel-efficient route if it isn’t already the fastest one. It is estimated to save over one million tons of carbon emissions per year — the equivalent of removing over 200,000 cars from the road — and save people money by reducing fuel consumption. This feature is now available in the U.S. and will be launched in Europe in 2022.
The company is also working to make sure the cars that remain on the road are eco-friendly. On Search, it will be easier to see hybrid and electric vehicle options, compare them against gas-powered models, and find rebates. These features will start to roll out in the U.S. this year, with more to come in 2022.
In addition, a lite navigation for cyclists on Maps will be made available to make it simpler to find bikes and scooter shares in over 300 cities around the world.
AI for More Efficient Traffic Lights
Google is finding ways to make routes more efficient, across an entire city, with early research into using artificial intelligence to optimize the efficiency of traffic lights. The company has been piloting this research in Israel to predict traffic conditions and improve the timing of when traffic lights change. So far, there is a 10-20% reduction in fuel consumption and delay time at intersections. These pilots will be expanded to Rio de Janeiro and beyond.
Cleanest Cloud in the Industry
Through recently launched tools, Google is also helping business customers like Whirlpool, Etsy, HSBC, Unilever, and Salesforce develop new solutions for the specific climate change challenges they face and benefit from the cleanest cloud in the industry. This will help businesses choose cleaner regions to locate their Google Cloud resources. More ways every company can choose to be more sustainable will be announced at Google Cloud Next ’21.
In all these efforts, Google’s goal is to make the sustainable choice an easier choice. At the individual level, these choices may seem small, but when people have the tools to make them at scale, they equal big improvements. Nothing less is needed to avert the worst consequences of climate change, and Google will continue to find ways their products can help.