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Google updates Maps, Search, Shopping, Nest for sustainability


Google Maps’ eco-friendly routing in the U.S. is available as of Wednesday

Photo courtesy Google

Google unveiled a range of modifications to core products on Wednesday to assist consumers in making more sustainable choices.

Climate change today is much more than just a threat. Sundar PichaiGoogle’s CEO and parent company Alphabet“, he said during Tuesday’s virtual press conference in prerecorded audio. Climate change is a present and real danger. The most serious threat we face is climate change. It affects everything from wildfires and flooding to severe storms and more frequent, severe weather events.

Google is a leader in sustainable business practices. In 2007, Google became carbon neutral, meaning it purchased offsets from all sources of carbon-emitting electricity. It has committed to running on clean, renewable energy by 2030.

Pichai explained that “that means any question you Google, each email you send and every YouTube video you view will be delivered to you without leaving carbon behind in the atmosphere.” “We think of this as a moonshot” — a long-term bet that could have a big impact.

Google’s suite of product upgrades will make it easier to choose sustainability, Pichai stated.

Below are the Google product updates. Some updates have been made available since Wednesday while others are in development.

Google Maps: Less gas-intensive routes

Google Maps defaults to the greenest route, if it is nearly the same time as without carbon emissions. This product update was announced in MarchHowever, it will be in effect in the United States beginning Wednesday and in Europe starting in 2022.

According to Sarah-Jayne Williams (director of Google Maps), Google Maps determines the fuel consumption based on road conditions, congestion, and traffic forecasts.

Williams stated Tuesday that Google and the U.S. Department of Energy have partnered to make routing recommendations.

Williams explained that customers who take longer routes to reach their destinations by eco-friendly means will have the option to pick between the slower or the more sustainable one.

Pichai explained that the feature could have as much impact next year, taking more than 200,000 cars off of the roads.

Google Maps also partners with businesses such as BirdAnd Donkey RepublicTo expand scooter and bike share information in 300 cities worldwide, including Berlin and New York as well as Sao Paolo, Sao Paolo, Taipei, and Sao Paolo.

Williams stated that this Wednesday update will allow you to locate nearby scooter and bike share stations, and even “in real-time pinpoint the number of vehicles available.” It will also indicate where you can park your scooter or bike.

Google Travel: Flight information and carbon emissions

Google Flights now has information about carbon emissions as of Wednesday.

Courtesy Google

Stephanie Horton from Google Commerce, the director of marketing, stated that Google Commerce will present the carbon emissions associated by a flight within the search results. The feature will be available for almost all flights worldwide on Wednesday.

Horton explained in a Tuesday prerecorded interview that they are putting the numbers into context and labeling those flights with higher levels of emissions. He also added a green badge for flights with lower levels.

Carbon emissions will take into account the type of aircraft and will be seat-specific, too. Horton explained that business-class and first class seats create more carbon emissions as they use more space. According to a Google spokesperson, American Airlines will supply fuel usage data for Google’s validation of its emission info. Kayak, the flight-search platform Kayak (a unit of Google) will provide fuel usage data to help Google validate its emissions info. Booking HoldingsThis tool allows you to search for flights by emission. 

Google hopes to assist consumers in making sustainable travel choices.

Horton explained that in the past decade the number of Google search for “ecohotel” has more than doubled. So, search results for hotels can indicate whether the hotel made significant commitments to sustainably-oriented practices.

If they are certified by a third party, the badge will be displayed next to hotels’ names in search results. Earth CheckOr Green KeyShe said. This feature was launched Sept. 22

Google will coordinate with Travalyst CoalitionHorton explained that the open-source model would allow for carbon emission calculations of flights and hotel stays to help “bring standardization throughout the industry”.

Information about energy consumption in search results

Google Shopping has begun to recommend more cost-effective and sustainable alternatives for Americans searching for appliances that use energy, such as water heaters or furnaces.

Photo courtesy Google

Horton explained that Google will provide suggestions for shopping results for products with high energy consumption, such as water heaters, dishwashers or furnaces. These recommendations can also give details about sustainability. On Wednesday, this feature will become available in the United States.

Google Search will also make it simpler for car buyers to choose a green car. It is expected that Google Search will launch in early 2019.

Williams said that Google will first identify hybrid and electric vehicles and the manufacturers in order to make it more easy to find them.

Williams stated that Google Search can also surface information about rebates for hybrid or electric vehicles, nearby compatible charging stations, and average charging times.

Williams announced that the new car shopping tools and one which will display total energy costs as well as emissions data for automobiles will start rolling out in this year. Williams also stated that there will be more features by 2022.

Williams stated that the idea of choice is at the heart of every update. By educating people about the options for sustainable travel, mode or car, they empower them to select the one that best suits their needs.

Results: Climate focus more

Google Nest will switch usage to cleaner energy

Automatically shifts your cooling and heating electricity to when the grid is more efficient or cheaper. A monthly report is sent to consumers.

Photo courtesy Google

Ben Brown from Nest’s product management, explained that the new Energy Shift feature of the Google Nest thermostat shifts heat and cool when it is cheaper. This was stated in a Google press release Tuesday.

Brown explained that this flexibility is crucial to making better use clean energy in the area.

The Energy Shift feature, for example, will consider when energy is available from renewable sources such as solar and wind. Brown explained that some utility companies will charge higher for peak energy, while the Nest Energy Shift feature automatically uses energy when it is the most affordable.

Customers can choose to manually manage their Nest thermostat systems and override automatic sustainability decisions if they wish.

Nest customers have the option to join Nest’s Renew Premium Program for $10 per month. This program will match your home carbon emissions with renewable energy credits, and offset any fossil fuel-based energy consumption.

Brown explained that you can rest assured knowing that electricity used in the home to turn on lights, run the washing machine, or watch TV is supporting renewable energy sources.

In a preview program, the Nest thermostat updates will begin to roll out over the coming weeks.

Future Projects: Tree canopy mapping and timed stop lights

In partnership with Haifa and Beer-Sheva as well as the Israel National Roads Company, Google conducted pilots in order to improve efficiency at traffic lights in four locations throughout Israel.

Photo courtesy Google

Google also teased some projects it’s still piloting but is not widely accessible.

Google, for example, is conducting research to maximize the efficiency of traffic lights throughout a city. This was stated by Kate Brandt, Google’s Chief Sustainability Officer in a prerecorded media briefing.

“Inefficient traffic signals are harmful for the environment as well as for public health. This is because idle vehicles… lead to more air pollution on the streets and fuel waste,” she explained.

Brandt explained that so far the Google traffic light research team has carried out pilot projects in four Israeli locations. These pilots resulted in an increase of fuel consumption and reduced time spent at intersections by 10%-20%. This project’s next pilot will take place in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).

Google also uses aerial imagery and artificial intelligence to determine where trees can be found in urban areas and where they are not covered. Tree Canopy Insights, the beta project, is named.