Google projects focus on healthy materials, air quality, geospatial data, and accessible views of the world
During our chat with Kate Brandt, Google’s Lead of Sustainability, we couldn’t squeeze all the fascinating Google projects going on at her workplace.Google’s ongoing efforts in furthering renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste reduction, and understanding water, Brandt has offered a multidisciplinary leadership role with each of these teams.
Here are 4 not-so-little Google projects that are changing our world:
1. Earth Engine
“Google Earth Engine has made it possible for the first time in history to rapidly and accurately process vast amounts of satellite imagery, identifying where and when tree cover change has occurred at high resolution. Global Forest Watch would not exist without it. For those who care about the future of the planet Google Earth Engine is a great blessing!” -Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute
This flagship tool uses Google’s cloud infrastructure to power a planetary-scale platform for Earth science data and analysis, including Global Forest Watch and Global Fishing Watch. This packs a multi-petabyte catalog full of satellite images, historical imagery, geospatial datasets, and 37 years of information, featuring daily updates ready for scientists, researchers, and instant analysis.
One of the coolest elements of Earth Engine is the interactive timelapse viewer. Time travel is within reach if you would like to go back and examine how the world has morphed over the last 29 years. It allows users to simply zoom in on visual effects of climate change, global development, and other planetary changes.
2. Portico, the Healthy Materials Tool
The Google real estate team came up with a unique concept involving healthy materials. This idea helped give birth to Portico, where vendors provide transparency when it comes to how their products are manufactured and what goes in them. In turn, Google can drive towards responsible use of the healthiest products.
All building products and materials specified and procured for Google designs and global construction must undergo a thorough screening process and be evaluated on industry standards, emphasizing value transparency and material health.
- Ingredient / chemical inventory and disclosure
- Ingredient / chemical hazard assessment
- Material optimization
This program’s objective is to empower users through better-informed decisions with a simple, user-friendly way to learn about material properties and potential impacts on human health. This is not only a response to increased demand for healthy materials, but more transparency, LEED certification, and industry standards in the marketplace. From here, project managers, architects, and contractors can access vast options for product choices and meeting job-site requirements.
3. Indoor Air Quality
Last year, TechCrunch asked “Do Google employees breathe better air than the rest of us?” Meanwhile, Google’s Mountain View campus and other Google structures were being studied by the startup, Aclima for the last several years. Additionally, Aclima has worked with the E.P.A. and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to discover the impacts of air on human health.
By utilizing a network of sensors strategically installed throughout buildings, Aclima can monitor and analyze air quality in real time. Through this program, more indoor air quality monitors have been deployed than any other organizations in the world, supporting healthier environments and sharing valuable information.
4. Google Trekker
With Google Trekker, tourism boards, non-profits, universities, research organizations, or other third parties who gather images of places that are difficult to access can apply to borrow Google’s tools to better map the world.
This Google project lends Trekker equipment to eligible parties to “take it to amazing places around the world that they know, love and want to share via Google Maps.”
To learn more about Google’s zero-waste initiatives, read our exclusive interview with Kate Brandt in our April 2016 issue.