The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges

Google (2007)

Award Presented at the Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, Minnesota

Google was selected to receive the Lindbergh Foundation Corporate Award for Balance. This award was established in 2006 to recognize corporations or organizations whose concern for and dedication to improving our quality of life by using technological solutions to improve our environment, is demonstrated through their business practices. At Google, the environment and sustainability is inbred in their corporate culture. Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have developed worker incentives for efficiency and are big supporters of alternative energy. Recently, Google announced plans to convert its headquarters to solar power. In addition, Google engineers have been working to encourage computer manufacturers to use energy saving power supplies.

The company has taken their commitment to sustainability even further by purchasing locally grown organic food for their employee cafeterias. Google announced it has installed more than 9,200 solar panels at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, which they expect will supply about 30 percent of the power needed at the one million-square-foot complex. The panels should produce about 1.6 megawatts of electricity, which is the equivalent of powering about 1,000 homes. This project will be the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S., and one of the largest in the world. Company executives state that this investment, although costly, should be recovered from energy savings within five to 10 years. Google engineers presented a white paper in which they outlined an energy-saving technology that would reduce waste from standard PC power supplies from 30-40 percent to just 10 percent. For a company that runs 500,000 servers, this kind of savings could really add up. The company is willing to share this technology with computer makers and has teamed up with Intel and other partners to propose a new power supply standard for home and business computers. As explained in their white paper, current power supplies to computers are still using original 1981 technology. The wasted energy comes from the conversion of high-voltage alternating current to low-voltage direct current, and because four separate voltages are produced, when only a single-12-volt current is needed. The company estimates that if this new technology were used in 100 million desktop computers that run eight hours a day, 40 billion kilowatt-hours of power could be saved over three years, representing a savings of more than $5 billion at California’s energy rates. Although even the company’s offices are designed to save on heating costs, Google’s commitment to the environment is not limited to energy efficiency initiatives. The company provides locally and organically grown food to its employees through their cafeterias. The company purchases food grown not more than 150 miles from its headquarters. With an estimated 4,000 people at its headquarters, Google’s business is likely large enough to keep several local farmers in business. A foundation has been established with an incredible $90 million endowment. According to BusinessWeek, Page and Brin, have “promised shareholders they will make a social impact that will eventually ‘eclipse Google itself’ by tackling the world’s problems.” Among the causes on Google’s list are global poverty, energy, and the environment. Google employees do a lot of volunteer work, and a grants program has been established that has donated $33 million in on-line advertising to more than 850 nonprofit organizations.

For more information, go to Google Corporate.

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