Google has become the latest tech giant to publicly commit to ensuring that its global operations, including its data centers, will return more water to the environment than they consume by 2030.
The internet and cloud search giant made the statement in a blog post, written by the company’s chief sustainability officer, Kate Brandt, which said Google is committed to replenishing “120% of the water ”that it consumes in its offices and data centers by 2030.
The company said it plans to achieve its goal by investing in water replenishment projects and initiatives aimed at improving the health of local watersheds in areas near its offices and data centers.
“In our data centers, we will identify opportunities to use alternatives to freshwater wherever possible, whether seawater or recovered wastewater,” said Brandt.
“With respect to our office campuses, we are looking to make more use of on-site water sources – such as collected storm water and treated wastewater – to meet our non-potable water needs, such as irrigation. landscape, cooling and flushing. “
The company also plans to make tools and technologies “universally available” to communities, policy makers and planners that will enable them to more effectively measure and forecast water availability, the blog added.
In support of this part of its commitment, the company said it has already formed alliances with academic and government research teams to co-develop an application for use by farmers and landowners, called OpenET. , which uses satellite data to show where water is moving. until the moment it evaporates.
He also worked with the United Nations Environment Program and the European Commission Joint Research Center to create another tool that tracks changes in surface water over time at national and local scales, a Brandt said.
“Water security is an issue that goes beyond our operations, and it’s not something we can solve on our own,” she added.
Google’s water replenishment strategy marks an expansion of its data center sustainability commitments, which in the past tended to focus on improving the energy efficiency of its sites, as well as reducing the amount of carbon emissions they generate.
That said, the 2020 year of the company Environmental report, which traces the work Google is doing across its organization to reduce its environmental impact, suggests that efforts to reduce the amount of water used by its offices and data centers have been underway for some time.
“Examples of sustainable water management practices in our data centers include the use of innovative cooling options where possible, such as seawater in Finland, water from industrial canals in Belgium and recycled wastewater in the United States at our site in Douglas County, Ga., ”the report said.
“In Ireland, we are optimizing the use of water by using outdoor air cooling. We also recirculate the water through our systems multiple times to get the most out of every drop we use. “
Google is also far from alone in making plans to reduce water consumption in its operations, as social media giant Facebook has made public its plans to become a “water positive” entity here. 2030 in August 2021.
Microsoft made an almost identical commitment in September 2020 to embark on a series of actions that will also allow it to replenish more water than its operations consume by 2030.
The reasons for this trend can be attributed to the fact that data center water consumption patterns are increasingly monitored by policymakers and environmentalists.
This is because of predictions of how climate change and population growth trends are expected to lead to increased water scarcity in drought-prone parts of the world, which in turn raises questions about steps that society can take to guard against exacerbating the problem.
Data center operators are notorious for using large amounts of water to cool their facilities due to their reliance on evaporative and adiabatic cooling systems, which is one of the reasons they are challenged to take measures to reduce their consumption.