Google’s New Office Complex Will Use a Massive Heat Pump Instead of Fuel

October 24, 2017, 3:48 PM UTC

Google will use North America’s largest heat pump—and no fossil fuel—to control temperatures at its new office complex now under construction in Silicon Valley, according to Fast Company.

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other tech companies love to highlight their projects meant to conserve energy or implement renewable energy sources. One reason is that the data centers they rely upon can be notorious energy hogs if not built right.

The search giant’s latest foray is taking place at NASA’s Moffett Field, where it is building a new office complex that will rely geothermal heat pumps for heating and air conditioning. In 2014, Google leased part of NASA’s legendary air field for $1.16 billion (for 60 years) to house this new office, just a few miles away from the company’s Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. The building is slated for completion in late 2019, according to a Google spokesperson.

Related: Data Center Spending Is Off the Charts This Year

As Eric Solrain, a principal with Integral Group, an engineering company working with Google (GOOG), told Fast Company:

In the wintertime, when we need to heat the buildings, we’re actually absorbing that heat from the ground, and then in the summertime, when we are cooling the buildings, we’re actually rejecting heat to the ground and warming the ground.

At a very basic level, heat pumps work by collecting and transferring ambient heat to where it’s needed without needing to burn fuel to create heat in the first place.


Rendering of Google facility.Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio + BIG
Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio + BIG

The efficient heat pump is part of the company’s grand plan to earn a coveted LEED Platinum certification. Such a designation from the U.S. Green Building Council is a badge of honor that shows the building in question was is built with healthy, renewable materials and uses sustainable energy. Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook has said his company’s new spaceship-esque headquarters, now known as Apple Park, in Cupertino, Calif. will be the world’s greenest building, although its LEED designation is still pending.

Related: Will Apple’s New HQ Be the World’s Greenest Office?

At its new site, Google tells the magazine that it will also collect and treat storm water for re-use and will install automatic self-shading windows to keep the building cooler on bright days, then reducing light pollution at night.

Google could not be reached for further comment.

Note: (October 25 2017 5:15 a.m. EDT): This story was updated with the building’s completion date and photos.

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