A little over a year ago, we partnered with the electrical engineering organization IEEE to launch The Little Box Challenge -- a competition to build a much smaller power inverter. Contestants from around the world have been hard at work on the challenge since then. This July, over 100 teams submitted Technical Approach and Testing Applications to have their inverters tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Energy Systems Integration Facility in Golden, Colorado this fall. We are proud to announce that the 18 teams selected to have their inverters tested are:

Team Name
Team Members
Eckart Hoene, Johann W. Kolar, Dominik Bortis, Yanick Lobsiger, Dominik Neumayr, Oliver Knecht, Florian Krismer, Stefan Hoffmann, Adam Kuczmik, Oleg Zeiter, Franc Zajc
Adiabatic Logic
Geoff Harvey, Alan Walbridge, Steve Love
Alexander Huenten
Agustin Reibel
Cambridge Active Magnetics
John Wood, Ed Shelton, Tim Regan, Ellen Wood, Kyle Rogers, Dr Kevin Rathbone, Sam Harrup
Evgeny Sboychakov, Ruslan Kotelnikov
Fraunhofer IISB
Bernd Eckardt, Stefan Endres, Maximilian Hofmann, Stefan Matlok, Thomas Menrath, Martin März, Stefan Zeltner
Future Energy Electronics Center
Jih-Sheng Lai, Lanhua Zhang, Xiaonan Zhao, Rachael Born, Chung-Yi Lin, Ming-Chang Chou, Shu-Shuo Chang, Kye Yak See
Jack Zhu, Mari Ma
Martin Pietka, Andrej Teren, Marian Vranka, Lubos Drozd, Peter Sedlacko
Henk Oldenkamp
Red Electrical Devils
Olivier Bomboir, Paul Bleus, Fabrice Frebel, Thierry Joannès, François Milstein, Pierre Stassain, Christophe Geuzaine, Carl Emmerechts, Philippe Laurent
Ionel Jitaru, Nicolae Daniel Bolohan, Antonio Marco Davila
Schneider Electric Team
Miao-xin Wang, Rajesh Ghosh, Srikanth Mudiyula, Radoslava Mitova, David Reilly, Milind Dighrasker, Sajeesh Sulaiman, Alain Dentella, Damir Klikic, Chandrashekar Devalapuraramegowda, Michael Hartmann, Vijaykumar Atadkar
The University of Tennessee
Daniel Costinett, Leon Tolbert, Fred Wang, Chongwen Zhao, Bradford Trento, Ling Jiang, Rick Langley, John Jansen, Reid Kress, Anthony Brun
Tommasi - Bailly
Mike Tommasi, Alain Bailly
UIUC Pilawa Group
Robert Pilawa, Shibin Qin, Christopher Barth, Yutian Lei, Wen-Chuen Liu, Andrew Stillwell, Intae Moon, Derek Chou, Thomas Foulkes
Herbert Venderbosch, Gerard Bruggink

The inverters brought to NREL will undergo extensive testing to verify that they meet the specifications of the competition. The announcement of the grand prize winner is expected to take place in early 2016. 

Posted by Google Green Team

Humankind is using up natural resources at an astonishing rate. Each year, our economy consumes far more than what the planet can naturally provide. Recent data shows that in 2015, society’s demand for resources will be equivalent to 1.5 Earths -- clearly not a sustainable path.

Our everyday actions can help shrink this oversize footprint -- through things like traveling more efficiently or using cleaner energy -- and we’ve built many tools to help make it easier. But companies should lead by example. That belief has propelled us to become the world’s biggest corporate purchaser of renewable power, a fully carbon-neutral company, and more

But we won’t stop there. Today we’re excited to launch a new partnership, with the UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, whose mission is to accelerate the transition to a regenerative “circular economy” -- an economy that eradicates waste through smart design. 

In a traditional “linear” economy, waste is rampant: finite natural resources are taken from the Earth, made into products, and ultimately disposed. A circular economy creates a more lasting, closed-loop system: it reduces the use of finite resources, and focuses on ways to continuously cycle materials back into the economy -- like renewable energy resources and highly reusable materials. As the Foundation explains in the video below, the circular approach can offer big advantages for both the planet and the financial bottom line.
Fortunately, we’re not starting at square one. Our current waste reduction efforts span many areas of our business -- and demonstrate at what circular economy principles can look like in practice. Here are several ways Google has already begun to “cut the crap”:

Cutting energy waste
  • Over the last five years, we’ve improved our data center operations and hardware to get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of electricity.
  • Turning waste into energy! At our main campus, we pipe in landfill gas from a local landfill to supply a portion of our electric and heating needs.
Cutting materials waste
  • Since 2007, we've repurposed enough outdated servers to avoid buying over 300,000 new replacement machines.
  • As we’ve designed and constructed new buildings in the last year, our recycling of demolition waste and onsite materials kept more than 10,000 tons of material out of landfills.    
Cutting food waste
  • In addition to our large-scale composting program, we use a software system in our kitchens to track pre-consumer food waste (expired items, trimmings, etc.). At our Bay Area campuses alone, this system has prevented more than 170,000 pounds of food going into the waste stream over the past year.
  • A growing number of our kitchens serve baked goods and other foods made with Coffee Flour, a flour derived from traditionally discarded parts of a coffee plant.

Cutting water waste
  • At our Atlanta data center, our reuse water system enables us to use recycled wastewater from a local sewage treatment plant for our cooling needs.
  • At our main campus, we invest in drought-resistant landscaping and irrigate with recycled water whenever possible. We’re on track for a 30 percent reduction in campus water use by the end of this year compared to 2013.
Our partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation will help us take our waste reduction and sustainability programs to the next level. Over the coming months, we’ll be working with the Foundation to explore and shape a series of initiatives to embed circular economic principles into the fabric of Google’s infrastructure, operations, and culture. Circle back with us in the coming year to hear more about where these projects take us and how they’ll support our ongoing commitment to the planet.   

Posted by Jim Miller, VP of Worldwide Operations

How clean is the air we breathe? How much climate-warming greenhouse gases are our cities emitting? These are difficult questions to answer because most air pollution is measured at a city level, not at the neighborhood or community level which is more relevant to people's daily lives. With street-level air pollution data, a parent of an asthmatic child could reduce exposure to air pollution that causes asthma attacks when they go to the park to play. Bike commuters and outdoor enthusiasts could find the healthiest route for their trips. Or a city planner could pinpoint areas of low air quality in her city and devise specific solutions to improve it. Seeing where and when the air quality is good or bad could help identify how to reduce pollution most effectively—like changing traffic light patterns to reduce idling traffic or keeping heavy trucks out of neighborhoods that are most vulnerable.

Today at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York, we’re announcing with Aclima that we will measure air pollution in more communities and map air quality at the street level. This follows our 2014 project with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to map methane leaking from natural gas local distribution systems, and our project to map multiple air pollutants in Denver with Aclima, which we announced in July.

Now, we’re equipping Google Street View cars with Aclima’s air pollution sensing platform to measure and map air quality in at least three major metropolitan areas in California, including communities in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Central Valley regions. With 38 million residents and nearly 30 million registered vehicles, managing California’s air quality is among the most challenging problems in the United States.
Street View car equipped with Aclima’s air pollution sensing platform

At high concentrations, particulate matter, black carbon, ozone, and other pollutants can trigger asthma attacks and make COPD worse. Worldwide, these pollutants lead to millions of premature deaths every year. These are the pollutants our cars will be measuring. Scientists working with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other partners are already helping us determine how the equipped vehicles should drive in order to collect data more efficiently. We’ll make the data collected during our drives available on Google Earth Engine to scientists and air quality experts, including the EDF and others, who will help analyze and model the data with the goal of linking human health impacts to air pollution and exploring other applications at a community level.

In the long run, our vision is to enable individuals, communities and policy-makers to make smart decisions to improve their health and our environment. By putting street-level air quality information overlaid on Google Earth and Google Maps, we’re making it more useful and actionable. And this, we hope, will lead to cleaner air.

Posted by Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach

The cost of solar power is at a record low. A typical solar home can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on their electricity bill.  But, as a volunteer with the Boston-based solar program Solarize Massachusetts and a solar homeowner myself, I’ve always been surprised at how many people I encounter who think that “my roof isn’t sunny enough for solar,” or “solar is just too expensive.” Certainly many of them are missing out on a chance to save money and be green.

Enter Project Sunroof, my recent 20% project. Project Sunroof is a new online tool we’re testing to help homeowners explore whether they should go solar. Available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno (in central California), and the Boston area for now, the tool uses high-resolution aerial mapping (the same used by Google Earth) to help you calculate your roof’s solar energy potential, without having to climb up any ladders.
Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.03.49 AM.png
If you’re in one of our test regions, simply enter your address and Project Sunroof will crunch the numbers. It first figures out how much sunlight hits your rooftop throughout the year, taking into account factors like roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns. You can also enter your typical electric bill amount to customize the results. The tool then combines all this information to estimate the amount you could potentially save with solar panels, and it can help connect you with local solar providers.
Google has always been a big believer in zero-carbon energy, and solar power has been a central part of that vision -- from accelerating the growth of rooftop solar, to helping finance the largest solar farm in Africa, to building one of America’s biggest campus solar arrays here in Mountain View. While Project Sunroof is in a pilot phase for now, during the coming months we’ll be exploring how to make the tool better and more widely available. If you find that your address isn’t covered by the tool yet, you can leave your email address and we’ll let you know when Project Sunroof is ready for your rooftop! 

Posted by Carl Elkin, Engineering Lead for Project Sunroof

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

In less than five months, policymakers from around the world will gather in Paris to finalize a new global agreement on combating climate change. Already, many governments are putting forth ambitious emissions reduction goals. And companies are taking action, too, by reducing their own footprints and investing in clean energy.

Reaching a strong deal in Paris is an absolute and urgent necessity. The data is clear and the science is beyond dispute: a warming planet poses enormous threats to society.

Public health experts recently warned that climate change threatens to “undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health,” through forces like extreme weather, drought, malnutrition, and disease. The U.S. government has asserted that climate change poses “immediate risks to U.S. national security,” as increased natural disasters and humanitarian crises fuel instability and violence. And many studies have revealed that critical infrastructure, like electricity and water, is vulnerable to rising sea levels and intensifying storms.

Climate change is one of the most significant global challenges of our time. Rising to that challenge involves a complex mix of policy, technology, and international cooperation. This won’t be easy, but Google is committed to doing its part.

Google has been carbon neutral since 2007. Our data centers, the physical infrastructure behind web services used by billions of people, now get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of electricity, as compared to five years ago. We are also the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable power on the planet. Just today at the White House, we pledged to triple those purchases over the next decade. In addition, we're a major climate-minded investor, so far committing more than $2 billion to clean energy projects, from America’s largest wind farm to Africa’s largest solar power plant.

We're serious about environmental sustainability not because it’s trendy, but because it’s core to our values and also makes good business sense. After all, the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use in the first place. And in many places clean power is cost-competitive with conventional power.

We’re making progress, but averting catastrophic climate change will require significant investment and bold innovations. Google and our private-sector peers are ready to lead. But something fundamental is required: clear policy. The global business community needs certainty to bring climate solutions to scale. We need the world’s political leaders to confirm that investments in clean energy are sound, and that the laws and policies meant to enable such investment will be designed for the long term and rooted in what science tells us needs to be done.

It’s encouraging to see the world’s major economies set ambitious climate targets, but it’s time to get a strong international climate agreement on the books. This December in Paris, it’s imperative that policymakers reach a deal that moves us toward a zero-carbon economy. That’s the kind of future that we’re committed to helping build, and that future generations deserve.

Posted by Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman

According to NASA, 2014 was the warmest year ever. Yet when Google’s News Lab looked at city-level search trends related to climate change over the past decade, we found that interest around "global warming" was actually higher in 2007 than it is today in many major cities. Google is deeply committed to environmental sustainability and renewable energy, and raising awareness about these issues is part of the solution. That's why, in 2013, we became the internet and technology partner of Solar Impulse, a project aiming at flying around the world on a plane using only solar power, in order to raise awareness for what's possible with clean technology and renewable energy.

On the first day of their round-the-world journey, we jointly launched the #FutureIsClean initiative: a platform to encourage the world to support the adoption of necessary clean technological solutions ahead of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21).

Since Solar Impulse took off from Abu Dhabi in March 2015, it has completed 8 out of 12 legs, completing nearly half of the journey. The most recent leg took 117 hours and 52 minutes, breaking the world record for the longest solo flight. Despite the achievement, the plane's batteries sustained some damage, postponing the second half of their round-the-world solar flight until April 2016. The plane will remain in Hawaii where it landed last.
Solar Impulse in Abu Dhabi before taking off for its first leg. The plane has a 230 feet wingspan (larger than a Boeing 747) and weighs no more than 5,000 pounds (equivalent to a car). © Solar Impulse|, March 2015

We're inspired by Solar Impulse's pioneering spirit that has allowed them to push the boundaries of clean and renewable technology, and we look forward to cheering them on next year as they complete their round-the-world trip.

Technology can help us do more with less. For example, making use of natural climates has helped us make our data centers 50% more efficient than the industry average, and green building technology has helped us limit energy consumption in our offices around the world. Now, we’re doing more with less to power Google’s North Bayshore campus in Mountain View.

We’ve recently signed a long-term agreement to purchase enough local wind energy to offset the electrical consumption of our North Bayshore headquarters on an annual basis. While we’ve been committed to being a carbon-neutral company since 2007, and we purchase clean energy for our data centers, this agreement is the first of its kind when it comes to our offices.

The agreement with NextEra Energy Resources will help to repower an iconic Bay Area wind farm at California’s Altamont Pass with new turbines that will pour 43 MW of electricity onto the grid starting in 2016. This new technology is twice as efficient, and also safer—especially for wildlife.
The new turbines will generate energy that feeds into the grid that powers our North Bayshore buildings in Mountain View. While these electrons can’t be traced once they enter the grid, we can measure how many of them leave the turbines, as well as how many we use on campus on an annual basis (tracked through a system of renewable energy credits, or RECs). So even though the electrons follow an untraceable path through the California electricity grid, we can be sure that we're offsetting the electrical consumption of our North Bayshore headquarters with the renewable energy from the new turbines.

Since our first wind investment in 2010, we’ve developed close relationships with renewable energy providers, helping us secure renewable energy agreements like this one for our campus and data centers—more than 1.1 gigawatt’s worth to date—and it’s also made it possible for us to make equity investments in 17 utility-scale renewable energy projects. And over the years we’ve been thrilled to see other California leaders, from tech companies to universities, also working to bring more renewable energy online.

Finally, if we can geek out for a minute: We think this project is especially cool because back in the 1980’s, the golden hills of Altamont Pass were an early test bed for the first large-scale wind power technology in the U.S. We’ve been blown away (pun intended :)) by how far turbine technology has come since then. Once the installation is complete, and the 370 legacy turbines are replaced, it will take just 24 new ones to generate as much power as our campus uses in a year. Talk about doing more with less.