What is happening
Google is opening a new campus that incorporates environmental features to limit the company’s carbon footprint.
why is it important
Following a trend in Silicon Valley where tech companies are trying to lessen their carbon footprint and demonstrate that they care about the environment.
Expect similar facilities that feature an environmental design. Apple is building one in Austin, Texas.
Google has opened an all-electric, water-net campus in California, the search giant said in a blog post on Tuesday, a facility that marks the first time the company has designed one of its facilities itself.
Located in Bay View, California, the new campus is home to the largest geothermal facility in North America, the company said. The geothermal system heats and cools the installation. The company estimates that the design will save 5 million gallons per year, or 90% of the water that would have been used by a conventional system to regulate temperature.
The campus features an impressive roof of solar panels with hard, downward-sloping edges in a pattern that Google calls a “dragonscale solar skin.” The solar rooftop, along with a nearby wind farm, will power the carbon-free campus 90% of the time, the company said.
Google declined to comment.
The Bay View campus is part of a larger Silicon Valley trend in which new facilities more fully integrate nature with architecture. Microsoft’s new campus in Silicon Valley and Apple’s upcoming campus in Austin use similar design techniques. Facebook expanded its Menlo Park campus in 2018 to include a Frank Gehry-designed office that features greenery and tall trews of redwood.
Tech campuses also have sustainability in mind, as companies market themselves in part by limiting their carbon footprint. Some critics have questioned the effectiveness of certain techniques, given the amount of carbon produced by humans.
The Bay View campus, which is about a mile from Google’s Mountain View headquarters, will use recycled water and rainwater for everything other than drinking water. The captured water will be used for cooling towers, toilet flushing and irrigation. Google’s goal is to replenish 120% of water used by 2030.
The new campus borrows from the “biophilic design” philosophy behind Google’s recently opened Manhattan campus. Such designs blend the natural world with modern building methods, resulting in green spaces, natural light, and natural materials.
Google says every office in Bay View will have an exterior view. The ventilation system uses 100% outdoor air, whereas typical systems often use 20% to 30% outdoor air, Google explains.
The lower level of campus serves as a gathering space for people to collaborate. The upper level is designed to look like “smaller quarters” separated by courtyards.
Google currently has a hybrid work schedule that allows employees to work from home at certain times and in the office at other times.
Other amenities include two kitchens with seven cafes and over 17 acres of natural areas including wet meadows, woodlands and a marsh.