Google unveiled a suite of sustainability features aimed at giving consumers more information so they can choose to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Driving the news: The rollout of the product this morning will be immediately noticeable if you use Google Maps, use the company’s flight search tools, search for companies to invest in, or simply query the search engine on the causes of global warming.
Details: Google aims to enable a “billion sustainable actions” by 2022, said Kate Brandt, director of sustainability at Google. Several of the measures come into effect in the United States today. These include:
- Show the most eco-friendly route in Google Maps and use it by default when the estimated travel time is comparable to other more fuel-intensive options. This feature was developed in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the Colorado Department of Energy.
- The feature uses metrics such as road congestion and grade to calculate the route that will use the least fuel.
- “We believe this feature will have the same impact next year as taking over 200,000 cars off the road,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, said in a video presentation.
- Google Flights also offers more sustainable choices by showing the carbon emissions of various flight options today when using the Google Flights search tool. Its metrics are both seat and flight specific.
- A first-class or business-class seat has a higher greenhouse gas footprint than a coach seat because it takes up more space.
- The flight search will tag flights with a green badge that have much lower emissions than other flights on the same route.
Still in the travel category, the company’s hotel research now shows whether a hotel has made commitments to sustainability and whether it has eco-certifications from independent organizations. Hilton and Accor have already started adding this information to their global hotel portfolio, Brandt said in a media presentation on Tuesday.
- Plus, starting this week in the US, Google will showcase the most cost-effective and durable options when looking for power-hungry appliances like ovens, dishwashers, and stoves.
Between the lines: Google designs new landing pages when people search for “climate change” and other fundamental questions about climate science and policy. These pages will aim to bring up the most reliable information from neutral organizations, such as the United Nations, company officials said.
Yes, but: Ads will always be sold to appear alongside these search results, which could still point users to climate science misinformation from special interest groups. Additionally, the landing page step is not applied to Youtube, which is home to plenty of videos that challenge the proven results of mainstream climate science.
Inventory: As Google moves towards its goal of becoming a company that will be 100% carbon-free by 2030, it is also trying to accompany its customers on their journey. The first way to do this is through its Nest smart thermostats.
How it works: With a program called ‘Nest Renew’, people with compatible Nest thermostats (a 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat, Nest Thermostat E, or the latest Nest Thermostat) will be able to adjust their peak power consumption for heating and cooling. at times when the electricity network is cleaner or cheaper.
- A paid version of Nest Renew, known as Nest Renew Premium, will cost $ 10 per month. This program aims to enable users to match their consumption of carbon-based electricity at home with renewable energy credits from U.S. solar and wind power plants in Google’s energy portfolio, thereby offsetting their gas emissions at greenhouse effect.
The plot: Google is also testing a project that would use AI to fine-tune traffic lights across an entire city to promote more efficient traffic flow. Tests have taken place in Israel and will soon be extended to Rio de Janeiro.
The bottom line: “In all of these efforts, our goal is to make sustainable choice, an easier choice,” Pichai said.