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11/28/2007
12:48 PM
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Going Green the Google Way

Google says it plans to invest "tens of millions on research and development and related investments in renewable energy." While it's a laudable move, there's no doubt that it's also a potentially cost saving venture as well. Maybe it's time for smaller businesses to start taking the "green" movement more seriously.

Google says it plans to invest "tens of millions on research and development and related investments in renewable energy." While it's a laudable move, there's no doubt that it's also a potentially cost saving venture as well. Maybe it's time for smaller businesses to start taking the "green" movement more seriously.Google says it also "anticipates investing hundreds of millions of dollars in breakthrough renewable energy projects which generate positive returns." Of course, going green Google's way is out of a smaller business's league but the company's green effort is worth taking note of, if only to appreciate, and try to emulate, the little bit of Don Quixote-esque approach buried within a very practical, long term, cost saving business plan.

As The New York Times notes, "The effort is aimed at reducing Google's own mounting energy costs to run its vast data centers, while also fighting climate change and helping to reduce the world's dependence on fossil fuels."

The article also quotes Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who said: "It's very hard to find options that aren't coal-based or other dirty technologies. We don't feel good about being in that situation as a company. We feel hypocritical. We want to make investments happen so there will be alternatives for us to use down the road."

Despite the fact that this is Google we're talking about, not everyone believes the plan makes sense. The NYT quotes Jordan Rohan of RBC Capital Markets who says, "The only positive byproduct of this project that would be anything other than environmental is that it might make Google managers and executives even prouder of the fact that they work there, and it may help retain key employees who think their goal is to do good in the world. But I'm really stretching."

Blogger Doulas McIntyre agrees. "Google does use a lot of electricity to run its server farms, but enough to justify the huge investment in technology that may not work? It's probably a bad idea," he writes.

But it may work. And it could help a company that, as Adam Frucci writes on Gizmodo, has a "serious amount" of servers using a "serious amount of power." He notes:

"Google is a company. A gigantic company. And yes, its motto is "Don't Be Evil," but there's no way it would do anything feel-good that wasn't going to save them or make them loads of money in the long run, and this is no different. When it comes to Google's priorities, it's makin' dollas first, everything else second. So yes, while saving the environment is a popular bandwagon to jump on for companies looking for an image boost right now, Google stands to actually benefit from moving to renewable energy."

He adds: "It's smart business all around, despite what shortsighted analysts are saying."

It's smart business for smaller companies too, especially when there are cheap easy ways to go green.

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