Changes in Maps, Search and Shopping may cause you to reconsider the route you choose, which hotel you choose to book, or what dishwasher you purchase.
As the issue of climate change looms big in our culture and political discussions and the biggest corporations in the world are being pressured to demonstrate how they’re dealing with the issue. Technology companies aren’t the only ones in this regard. On Wednesday Google has announced improvements on Search and Maps designed to assist people in reducing their impact on the environment.
One of the main features announced is a dedicated page within results of searches that will appear at the end of this month, when people seek answers to their questions concerning climate change. Similar to the information hub on climate science created by Facebook in the past this page will give users comprehensive details about climate change including the causes, actions impacts, definitions, and more from reliable sources like and the United Nations.
Google isn’t the only one taking the time to emphasize that it is taking the climate crisis very seriously. Businesses like Apple, Samsung and Facebook claim they’ve taken action to ensure that their supply chains and daily activities don’t impact the environment. Data centers demand huge amounts of energy which is why it’s vital for companies to make sure they’re powered by renewable sources.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai hosted a sustainability-focused event on Tuesday from outside one of Google’s campus buildings in California. The roof of the building is covered with more than 50,000 solar panels which form a skin-like scale which is expected to allow the building to run with 90% of carbon-free energy as per the company’s claims.
Pichai explained this as an “physical manifestation of our commitment to sustainability, one that goes back to our founding 23 years ago.”
The goal is to have the entirety of Google to run entirely on carbon-free power by 2030which Pichai referred to in the context of one Google’s “moonshots,” which it first announced last year. At present, Google’s data centers are running at 67 percent carbon-free, an increase from 61% in 2019 Google claims.
And while Google is shouldering some of the responsibility for improving its eco-credentials, it says it also wants consumers to make good, informed decisions and wants third-party companies to ensure they’re living up to the expectations of more sustainability-minded consumers.
Transit, shopping, and transportation
Beginning immediately, Google searches related to travel will reveal details about whether hotels have fulfilled meaningful commitments to sustainability. This includes whether they’ve earned any eco-friendly certifications. Certain hotel chains have already started to add the information themselves that will place the pressure on other companies to make the same changes. Google will also provide the carbon dioxide emissions for each flight that you search for directly in the search results, as well as specific details for seats (unfortunately it’s greener to travel economy compared to business or first because seats are smaller). Google will also help put this information in context by stating the level of carbon dioxide emissions, whether high or low.
A shopping feature accessible from Wednesday in US will offer green and cost-effective options when you are looking for appliances that consume energy, such as heaters dishwashers, water heaters, stoves or dryers. This is a way for the makers of these products to make sure that they’re attracting the attention of potential buyers by increasing the environmental credibility of their products.
The beginning of next year, across also in US, Google will introduce tags that will help buyers recognize hybrid and electric cars. If you are looking into an electric vehicle it will show nearby charging stations that are compatible and charging times typical, in order to help consumers to search for environmentally friendly automobiles and comprehend the advantages of electric vehicles.
The people who use diesel or gasoline vehicles aren’t excluded. The immediate release of the Google Maps for the US (and coming to Europe in the next year) will allow the company to employ AI to suggest the most efficient route for you to choose as your first choice. (If this route adds significantly the ETA by more than the most efficient route you’ll be presented with alternatives).
The company believes to see that the technology, created by utilizing the knowledge of the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is able to help reduce over 1 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually that’s equivalent to the removal of more than 200,000 cars off the road, according Sarah-Jayne Williams who is Google’s director of global partnerships for products.
In terms of two-wheeled options for transportation, Google is bringing bikescooter and bike-share information to a further 300 cities immediately. They will soon be introducing Lite Navigation for cyclists in the next few months. This will allow users to view the most basic details about their journey such as ETA along with elevation, and the progress of their journey without having to turn their screens open or switch to turn-by-turn navigation.
Google’s chief sustainability officer Kate Brandt, took the occasion of Google introducing new options for transit to reveal research it was carrying out in Israel (and is soon growing in Rio de Janeiro) to utilize AI to improve the efficiency of traffic lights across cities. The goal, she said is to decrease the use of fuel and wait times and wait time by varying between 10% and 20% to date.
“Solving sustainability isn’t just something we’re doing at Google,” Brandt stated. “We are building it into our products, so that the sustainable choice becomes an easier choice for everyone.”