Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Hundreds of millions of users access these services through the web, and supporting this traffic requires lots of computers. Google strives to offer great internet services while taking energy use very seriously. Almost a decade ago, they started efforts to make computing infrastructure as sustainable as possible. Today they operate the world's most efficient data centers.
Google-designed data centers use considerably less energy - both for the servers and the facility itself - than a typical data center. As a result, the energy used per Google search is minimal. In fact, in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will use more energy than they will use to answer your query.
At Google, sustainability is about more than electricity, so they've gone beyond just reducing energy consumption. Before the end of 2008 two of their facilities will run on 100% recycled water, and by 2010 they expect recycled water to provide 80% of their total water consumption. They also carefully manage the retirement of our servers to ensure that 100% of this material is either reused or recycled. Finally, They are engaging users and peers to help build a clean and efficient energy future. They understand that the broader impact could be significant; if all data centers operated at the same efficiency as Google's, the U.S. alone would save enough electricity to power every household within the city limits of Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
Sustainability is good for the environment, but it makes good business sense too. Most of their work is focused on saving resources such as electricity and water and, more often than not, we find that these actions lead to reduced operating costs. Being "green" is essential to keeping their business competitive. It is this economic advantage that makes our efforts truly sustainable.