Google Cloud customers can now select regions based on CO2 output

The update is part of Google’s company-wide sustainability initiative that aims to achieve carbon-free status by 2030

Google Cloud has announced an update to its data centre region picker that allows customers to reduce their carbon footprint by choosing a region based on its CO2 output.

Starting today, Cloud Run and Datastream users will be able to find a region with the lowest carbon impact inside the Cloud Console location selectors, with the tool being rolled out to other Google Cloud offerings over time.

Regions will receive labels such as "Lowest CO2" or a leaf symbol, which means that the region has a carbon-free energy percentage of at least 75% or, in case this information is not available yet, a grid carbon intensity of no higher than 200 gCO2eq/kWh.

Screenshot of new region picker update

Image courtesy of Google Cloud

Grid carbon intensity is estimated based on average lifecycle gross emissions per unit of energy and is used to compare the regions in terms of carbon intensity. For instance, although Frankfurt and the Netherlands have similar CFE scores, the Netherlands has a higher emissions factor.

The update is part of Google’s company-wide sustainability initiative which aims to achieve carbon-free status by 2030. The tech giant has been carbon-neutral since 2007.

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Besides the region picker’s Carbon footprint indicator, which was first previewed earlier this year and works by measuring the amount of carbon-free energy supply for each region, users can also filter regions based on cost as well as latency. The latter is estimated based on the physical distance between the customer’s headquarters and the city or country of the data storage region.

Commenting on the announcement, Carbon-free for Google Cloud Platform (GCP) product manager Steren Giannini said the tech giant wanted to empower its customers “to make more sustainable decisions and progress with us towards this 24/7 carbon-free future”. 

“Earlier this year, we published the carbon characteristics of our Google Cloud regions. Later, we introduced a simple tool to help you pick a Google Cloud region, taking variables like price, latency and sustainability into account. Our next question was: what’s the best way to surface that sustainability info when you’re actually picking a region for your cloud resources?” he added.

“By sharing and displaying carbon information of Google Cloud regions, together we’re making tangible progress towards our goal of a carbon-free future.”

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