Alphabet Issues Sustainability Bonds To Support Environmental And Social Initiatives
Author: Ruth Porat, CFO Alphabet and Google
For more than 20 years, Google's products have improved the lives of people all over the world. Operating our business in an environmentally and socially responsible way has been a core value since our founding in 1998. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and we’ve matched our entire electricity consumption with renewables for the past three years. We continue to make major investments in affordable housing and have made a number of significant commitments to promote racial equity.
Today, as part of a $10 billion debt offering, we have issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds, the largest sustainability or green bond by any company in history. Although a number of companies have issued green bonds (directed solely to environmental uses), sustainability bonds differ in that their proceeds support investment in both environmental and social initiatives. Such bonds are an emerging asset class and we hope this transaction will help develop this new market. We’re encouraged that there was such strong demand for these bonds from investors - they were significantly oversubscribed.
The proceeds from these sustainability bonds will fund ongoing and new projects that are environmentally or socially responsible and enable investors to join us in tackling critical issues. We believe that these investments benefit our communities, employees and stakeholders, and are an important part of fulfilling Google’s mission and goal of creating value over the long term.
Consistent with the Green Bond Principles and the Social Bond Principles, eligible projects for use of proceeds are within the following eight areas that build on significant investments we have previously made and will not be allocated to any Google.org activities.
For more than a decade, we’ve worked to make Google data centers some of the most efficient in the world by optimizing our use of energy, water, and materials. Today, on average, a Google data center is twice as energy efficient as a typical enterprise data center. Compared with five years ago, we now deliver around seven times as much computing power with the same amount of electricity.
Combating climate change requires transitioning to a clean energy economy. To date, we have committed approximately $4 billion to purchase clean energy from more than 50 wind and solar projects globally through 2034. Next, we are focused on our longer term vision to source carbon-free energy for our operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week; this means matching our energy consumption with clean energy for each of our data centers around the world on an hour-by-hour basis.
Since the beginning, we've focused on the impact of our workplaces: from how we build our offices to preventing food waste in our cafes. Today, more than 13 million square feet of Google offices are LEED certified.
We’re working to mitigate carbon emissions and take cars off the road by promoting the use of EVs and bicycles. By using Google shuttles in the Bay Area, we saved 40,000+ metric tons of CO2 emissions—equivalent to taking 8,760 cars off the road every work day.
Circular economy and design
We are committed to maximizing the reuse of finite resources across our operations, products, and supply chains and to enable others to do the same. To date, we’ve shipped millions of devices made with post-consumer recycled plastic and 100% of Nest products launched in 2019 include recycled plastics.
We strive to be a good neighbor in the places we call home. To address the lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area, we made a $1 billion commitment to invest in housing and expect to help build 20,000 residential units, of which at least 5,000 will be affordable.
Commitment to racial equity
Because racial equity is inextricably linked to economic opportunity, we will continue to support Black businesses. Recent efforts include a $175+ million economic opportunity initiative, including financing for small businesses in Black communities, and a $100 million YouTube fund to amplify the voices of Black creators and artists.
Support for small business and COVID-19 response
COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on many businesses. To help we made an $800+ million commitment to small- and medium-sized businesses, health organizations, governments, and health workers on the frontlines. We’ve also partnered with Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) to provide low-interest loans to community development financial institutions, who in turn provide loans to small businesses in underserved communities in the U.S., and are working with the American Library Association to create entrepreneurship centers across the U.S.
Our Sustainability Bond Framework will guide our investments. To ensure transparency and alignment with the framework, we'll report back annually on which projects have been funded from the bonds' proceeds and their expected impact.
This is the next chapter in our commitment to a more sustainable future for everyone.