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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
Sustainability
3.
Key Features
4.
View and Export Carbon Footprint
4.1.
Viewing Carbon Footprint Dashboard
4.2.
Exporting Carbon Footprint
5.
Custom Dashboards
5.1.
Using Google Sheets
5.2.
Using Google Data Studio
5.3.
Using looker
6.
Services covered
7.
Frequently Asked Questions
7.1.
How does Carbon Footprint work?
7.2.
Is it possible to read and export Carbon Footprint data using APIs?
7.3.
What are the activities reported by Carbon Footprint for emissions?
8.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Carbon Footprint

Author Yashesvinee V
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Leveraging ChatGPT - GenAI as a Microsoft Data Expert
Speaker
Prerita Agarwal
Data Specialist @
23 Jul, 2024 @ 01:30 PM

Introduction

Operating an on-site data centre requires a constant power supply for a server, a cooling system to avoid overheating, and equipment to dispose of e-waste. Studies from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) affirm that data centres consume up to 1.8% of the overall energy consumption in the US each year. The greenhouse gas emissions of data centres are responsible for over 31.5 million tons, or 0.5% of total GHG emissions. Cloud computing can drastically lower CO2 emissions while shifting workloads to any location around the globe. Carbon Footprint is a Google Cloud tool used to measure, report, and reduce cloud carbon emissions. 

Sustainability

Cloud sustainability means reducing the environmental impact of data centres with cloud computing. Google is carbon neutral today and aims to run on carbon-free energy, 24/7, at all of its data centres by 2030. A Google data centre is twice as energy efficient as a typical data centre. It can deliver six times as much computing power for the same amount of electrical power. Tools like Carbon Sense suite, Active Assist and Carbon Footprint help users accurately report the carbon emissions associated with their Google Cloud usage. Running applications with zero net emissions using sustainable VMs and using ML accelerators to lessen the energy consumption of Machine Learning are some examples of Google Cloud Sustainability resources.

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Key Features

  • A console dashboard provides a high-level overview of the gross carbon emissions from the energy associated with using Google Cloud services for an account using charts. 
     
  • Users can export their Carbon Footprint data by Automated exports and BigQuery for data analysis.
     
  • Users can segment their total gross carbon emissions by service, project, region, and month. They can get gross carbon emissions data in reports and disclosures.
     
  • Carbon Footprint data provides the estimates of the gross emission reductions that can be achieved by removing idle projects.   

View and Export Carbon Footprint

Viewing and exporting the Carbon Footprint information requires the following permissions.

  • billing.accounts.getCarbonInformation
  • billing.accounts.list
  • billing.accounts.get

Viewing Carbon Footprint Dashboard

These permissions allow users to view billing accounts and associated Carbon Footprint data. The Carbon Footprint dashboard can be accessed from the Tools section within the Google Cloud console.

Carbon Footprint data is computed automatically for a billing account and does not require any setup or API to function. Information is displayed in terms of kilograms of CO2 equivalent (kgCO2e). The dashboard displays:

  • Yearly gross carbon footprint:  The total estimated greenhouse gas emissions associated with the usage of Google Cloud services over the past 12 months.
     
  • Gross carbon footprint for the past month: The total estimated greenhouse gas emissions associated with a selected billing account for the most recent completed month, compared to the previous month.
     

The dashboard also includes four main charts.

  1. The Gross monthly carbon emissions
     
  2. The Gross carbon emissions by project
     
  3. The Gross carbon emissions by product 
     
  4. The Gross carbon emissions by region

Exporting Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint data can be exported to BigQuery via the BigQuery Data Transfer service for data analysis and creating custom dashboards or reports. Exporting Carbon Footprint requires the following roles and permissions.

Roles: Project Owner or Project Editor, Carbon footprint Viewer or Billing Account Viewer.

Permissions:

  • resourcemanager.projects.update
  • serviceusage.services.enable
  • bigquery.transfers.update
     

Exporting via BigQuery Data Transfer Service creates a data table called carbon_footprint. Carbon Footprint exports each month's data on the 15th day of the following month. Once the Carbon Footrpunt export to BigQuery is complete, it can be converted to Sheets or CSV formats.

Custom Dashboards

Users can create custom dashboards to display Carbon Footprint data in three ways.

Using Google Sheets

Step 1: Export the entire  Carbon Footprint data to a Sheet.

Step 2: Use a pivot table to create custom reporting on your exported data.

Step 3: Create a chart to visualise pivot table data.

Using Google Data Studio

Step 1: After exporting Carbon Footprint to BigQuery, create a new Google Data Studio report.

Step 2: Connect to BigQuery by selecting the dataset while configuring Carbon Footprint export.

Step 3: Add charts to the report using the created data source.

Using looker

After exporting to BigQuery, install the Carbon Footprint block.

Services covered

Carbon Footprint covers many services. A few of them are listed below.

Services covered by Carbon Footprint

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Carbon Footprint work?

Carbon Footprint uses a location-based reporting method to generate reports and dashboards. These footprints represent the "gross emissions" from all electricity generation sources at a given location. It builds its calculations using a bottom-to-top approach, relying heavily on machine-level power and activity monitoring inside Google data centres. 

Is it possible to read and export Carbon Footprint data using APIs?

Carbon Footprint does not have any dedicated public API. Users can export their carbon footprint via the BigQuery Data Transfer Service API and then query it using the BigQuery API. To Query an existing report, an SQL query is required to return the desired data from the exported dataset.

What are the activities reported by Carbon Footprint for emissions?

The Carbon Footprint report records the electricity used by Google Cloud products and ancillary electricity services such as cooling and lighting inside a Google-owned data centre or a facility. It also includes upstream lifecycle emissions of data centre equipment and buildings. 

Conclusion

This blog discusses Carbon Footprint in Google Cloud. It covers the Sustainability goals of Google Cloud and the key features of Carbon Footprint. It explains how to view and export Carbon Footprint data and create Custom dashboards to view them. 

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