Google adds Detroit to online sustainability database

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Detroit was recently added to the database to help the city achieve its sustainability goals.

By Connor Smithee

Google has added Detroit to a new tool that helps cities reach sustainability goals.

The company’s Environmental Insight Explorer collects environmental data such as a city’s potential solar output, carbon emissions and long term climate outlook.

The tool has been rolled out to 35 cities on six continents. Three of these cities are in the Great Lakes Basin.  The other two are Cleveland and London, Ontario.

Cities are having a tough time collecting data that is useful in sustainability projects, said Nicole Lombardo, the partnership manager for Google’s Environmental Insight Team. This tool helps them collect and manage sustainability data.

Google uses data it already has from Google Maps to calculate carbon emissions from transportation,  Lombardo said.

That’s helpful because it’s hard to calculate that information, said Joel Howarni-Heeres, director of Detroit’s Office of Sustainability.

The city could get the building data from electricity providers, Howarni-Heeres said. But the CO2 emissions from vehicles was something it didn’t have.

Google wanted a mix of large and small cities involved with the program, Lombardo said. It plans to add many more cities.

As Detroit develops its sustainability plan, it will use the Environmental Insight Explorer to develop climate goals,  Howarni-Heeres said.

Detroit’s Office of Sustainability is growing. Officials there plan to develop a climate action plan that includes water conservation, planting trees, integrating electric vehicle charging and using the Environmental Insight, Howarni-Heeres said.

Reducing climate change requires an all hands on deck approach, Lombardo said.

Anyone can view the data on the Environmental Insight Explorer.

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