Sustainable with Google 2021: Nest Renew, traffic light efficiency, and more

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During its Sustainable with Google event on Tuesday, the company announced a number of improvements to its product portfolio aimed at helping users make more sustainable decisions. The updates and projects aim to reduce carbon emissions by leading people to more environmentally friendly travel options, greener products, and more accurate information about climate change.

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In addition to consumer products, Google took this opportunity to break its own horn. Previous commitment to have a net-zero data center by 2030. The company says it is leveraging the “cleanest cloud in the industry” thanks to partners such as Whirlpool, ETC, HSBC, Unilever and Salesforce. Expect more news on that front next week Its Annual Cloud Conference. Here’s Everything Google Declared in Sustainable With 2021.

Nest offers carbon offset

Photo of a woman adjusting the Nest Thermostat.

Nest Renew is a new service that adjusts the heating and cooling of owners’ home to use more sustainable power sources. Since production from sources such as solar and wind varies greatly, it is possible to make small changes to the thermostat to take advantage of the abundance of clean energy or to respond to a drop in its availability.


Electricity providers try to encourage dealing with those variations by offering rates from time to time. It’s not entirely practical to hang out to tweak on your thermostat, but letting the Nest adjust it automatically is potentially a great solution. Ideally, these changes are small enough to make no material difference to home comfort.

Nest Renew dashboard showing emission savings.

Nest has awarded users a leaf while saving energy, and Renew will offer something else. They include occasional challenges to earn bonus vacation, such as committing to running a load of laundry with cold water to save electricity. These can be redeemed for votes on how Nest uses the money in its Energy Impact program, which donates to a group of environmental nonprofits, such as grid option And improvement.

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Although Nest Renew is a free program, Google is also offering Renew Premium. For $10 a month, it will match your estimated fossil fuel electricity use with a renewable energy credit. It’s probably best to look at it as a carbon offset subscription. The first partner on this front is the Bethel Wind Project, but more partners are expected to jump in over time. Nest Renew includes monthly impact reports that show exactly what has been achieved with its fiddling.

Nest Renew will be rolling out in limited preview across the continental US “in the coming weeks” and you can sign up for invitation.

Flight searches will show emissions

A screenshot of Google search results for a flight with stability filter.

Search results for flights will now include filters and sorting for CO2 emissions for your routes. These figures will also adjust on a class basis, as first class seats take up more space and account for a proportionately larger share of in-flight emissions than coaches. The new aircraft have improved fuel efficiency and emissions will be reflected in these ratings as well. To help find the best option, especially green flights will be marked with a leaf.

Hotels to earn sustainability certifications such as Green Key or Earth Check will also get a similar noisy nod. This will help tourists find hotels that have water conservation and waste reduction programs. This is likely to lift travel restrictions as more people get comfortable with getting on a plane.

Google Maps Gets Friendly With Cyclists

Screenshot of Google Maps directions using the more sustainable route.

The latest update to Google Maps for the US will help drivers find eco-friendly routes based on estimated fuel consumption. Of course, this isn’t necessarily the fastest route, but it’s an option you’ll still have in your navigation. The feature is expected to hit Europe next year.

Over the next few months, cyclists will be able to reduce distractions with a new “lite” navigation interface. Standard turn-by-turn instructions aren’t particularly useful when your phone is tucked away in a pocket or bag anyway. Cyclists will also be able to find bikeshare services in 300 cities around the world through Google Maps. These regions include Berlin, New York, So Paulo and Taipei, Taiwan, with more on the way.

Discovery sheds light on facts of climate change

Disinformation on climate change is significant, and Google is updating its results interface on the topic to highlight quality information. Users will be able to understand the causes, effects and definitions along with quality sources to back up the information.

Shopping search finds green options

Screenshot of Google search results for water heater.

If you’ve been shopping for home appliances on Google, finding energy-efficient options will become easier. Searching for furnaces, dishwashers, water heaters, stoves and dryers in the US will now provide a tab with helpful fixture suggestions.

This extends to the search for electric vehicles in Google. The results will now improve the visibility of EVs, as well as show projected annual fuel savings compared to gasoline-powered cars and the location of nearby charging stations. The feature is expected to arrive in the US early next year.

Google Finance helps you build an eco-portfolio

Google Finance will continue to highlight the environmental records of companies in their stock listings. Google has already added a sustainability score to individual listings from environmental nonprofit CDP, and soon Google Finance will provide an aggregate score of an entire portfolio. This will help the investors to assess the overall impact of their contribution.

Fresh AI research could ease crossroads slowness

Diagram showing traffic improvement with Google AI.

Finally, Google has announced that it is engaged in research that uses AI to improve the efficiency of traffic lights in cities. Pilot projects in Israel have already produced a 10% to 20% reduction in fuel and intersection delay times. More tests are in the works in Rio de Janeiro and elsewhere in the world. Hopefully, such technology can reduce waste and waste emissions.

That’s a lot to cram into a single event. For end users, much of this will just amount to user interface changes, but at Google’s scale, the cumulative impact of these changes could be significant. Nest Renew stands out as the biggest single announcement ever, and although it has strong potential to align with renewable energy sources, it may be ambitious to try to get users to tackle a $10-per-month carbon offset subscription. could.

There are plenty of reasons to be cynical about Big Tech’s commitments to sustainability, even if what Google is saying here sounds great. Measuring the outcome of these initiatives is in itself a challenge from both an accuracy and transparency point of view. At least, we can appreciate the spirit in which they act.

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