Google Backs Green-Cloud Claims, Touts Apps

June 18, 2012 Off By Hoofer
Grazed from Wired.  Author: Mike Barton.

Google describes how reducing energy use for servers and server cooling works. Image: Courtesy of Google

The cloud is more green than traditional on-premises setups, according to a recent Carbon Disclosure Project survey. But that survey, which Cloudline put to a question in March, did not sit well with readers (see the comments section.)

Now Google is championing the Carbon Disclosure Project, and touting its cloud apps’ energy efficiency as well as their green cred (notably, too, the post was lifted from the Google Green blog)…



At Google, we’re obsessed with building energy efficient data centers that enable cloud computing. Besides helping you be more productive, cloud-based services like Google Apps can reduce energy use, lower carbon emissions and save you money in the process. Last year, we crunched the numbers and found that Gmail is up to 80 times more energy-efficient than running traditional in-house email. We’ve sharpened our pencils again to see how Google Apps as a whole—documents, spreadsheets, email and other applications—stacks up against the standard model of locally hosted services. Our results show that a typical organization can achieve energy savings of about 65-85% by migrating to Google Apps.

Google’s green claim:

Lower energy use results in less carbon pollution and more energy saved for organizations. That’s what happened at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which recently switched its 17,000 users to Google Apps for Government. We found that the GSA was able to reduce server energy consumption by nearly 90% and carbon emissions by 85%. That means the GSA will save an estimated $285,000 annually on energy costs alone, a 93% cost reduction.

In fact, according to a study by the Carbon Disclosure Project, by migrating to the cloud, companies with over $1 billion in revenues in the U.S. and Europe could achieve substantial reductions in energy costs and carbon emissions by 2020…

Greenpeace pulled no punches in April when it scaled Microsoft’s building and hung a protest banner asking Amazon and Microsoft: “How clean is your cloud?”:

Professional Greenpeace activists hang protest on the web giants on Thursday. Are Microsoft’s clouds really green-challenged? Is the cloud ultimately better for the environment? Photo: Courtesy of Greenpeace

Greenpeace took Apple to task as well (and Apple his since said it would abandon coal power for its data centers.) But Greenpeace gave Google’s cloud kudos, Wired Enterprise’s Caleb Garling reported at the time:

Though Greenpeace has criticized Google for killing off its solar thermal power programs, Cook reiterated Greenpeace’s support for the way the search giant powers its data centers. In January of this year, Greenpeace released its “Cool IT Leaderboard,” in which it rated companies for their leadership in adopting clean energy. Google came out on top. Cook claims that in Iowa, where both Google and Microsoft have data centers, Google has taken the opportunity to use wind power and sell energy back into the grid. Microsoft, he says, has not.

Google writes in its blog post today: “We’ve built efficient data centers all over the world, even designing them in ways that make the best use of the natural environment, and we continue working to improve their performance. We think using the super-efficient cloud to deliver services like Google Apps can be part of the solution towards a more energy efficient future.”

Have you say: Is Google Apps lean and green, or is the web giant blowing carbon-laden smoke?