Google Opens Self-Designed, All-Electric Campus in California


What’s happening

Google is opening a new campus that integrates environmental features to limit the company’s carbon footprint.

Why it matters

Follows a trend a Silicon Valley where tech companies are attempting to mitigate carbon footprints and demonstrate that they are environmentally aware.

What’s next

Expect similar facilities that feature environmental design. Apple is building one in Austin, Texas.

Overhead shot of Google Bay View campus. 


Google has opened an all-electric, net water positive campus in California, the search giant said in a blog post on Tuesday, a facility that marks the first time the company has self-designed one of its facilities. 

Located in Bay View, California, the new campus sports the largest geothermal installation in North America, the company said. The geothermal system heats and cools the facility. The company estimates the design will save 5 million gallons annually, or 90% of the water that would have been used by a conventional system to regulate temperature.

The campus features a striking solar-panel roof that has hard edges and slopes downward in a pattern Google calls a “dragonscale solar skin.” The solar roof, along with a nearby wind farm, will power the campus carbon-free 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 integrate nature with architecture more fully. Microsoft’s new Silicon Valley Campus and Apple’s upcoming Austin campus use similar design techniques. Facebook expanded in 2018 its Menlo Park campus to include a Frank Gehry-designed office that features greenery and large redwood trews.

Tech campuses also have sustainability in mind as companies market themselves in part by limiting carbon footprints. Some critics have questioned how effective some of the techniques might be given how much carbon humans produce. 

The Bay View campus, which is about a mile from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, will use recycled water and rainwater for everything other than drinking water. The captured water will be used for cooling towers, flushing toilets 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 desk at Bay View will have a view of the outdoors. The ventilation system uses 100% outside air, whereas typical systems often use 20% to 30% outside air, Google says.

The lower level of the campus serves as a gathering space for people to collaborate. The upper level is designed to resemble “smaller neighborhoods” separated by courtyards.

Google currently has a hybrid work schedule that allows employees to work from home some of the time and at the office other times. 

Other amenities include two kitchens with seven cafes and more than 17 acres of natural areas, including wet meadows, woodlands and a marsh.


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