Art/Design, Sustainability, Tech

Take a look at Google’s first self-designed Sustainable campus

Are those dragon scales?

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Jun 10, 2022

Google’s first self-designed campus is a first of its kind: Not only does it boast solar powering technology that is a big step in environmental protection, but it also provides architecturally exciting elements in its design.



Google’s new Bay View headquarters in Mountain View, California, is the company’s first self-designed campus. Aerial photos reveal a distinctive roof design that looks like reptilian scales at first glance. But upon a more thorough and closer inspection, it is revealed that the roof is made up of 90,000 silver solar panels. This kind of use of solar panels is a first-of-its-kind.


The design has been dubbed “dragonscale solar skin” by Google. Nearby wind farms are capable of powering the building on carbon-free energy close to 90% of the time, generating about 7 megawatts of energy and accounting for roughly 40% of the offices’ energy use.



This campus’ main goal is to prioritize the experience of workers at Google through putting at the forefront the elements of the building that make for a creative environment, such as lighting, air quality, and acoustics.


The design is specifically made to create an experience of effortless comfort: With clerestory windows controlling natural light that passes onto the desks, the shades on the windows are automated and they open and close automatically throughout the day. Building items and materials were specially chosen to remove pollutants, and ventilation systems use 100% outside air.


Additionally, to improve the health and wellness of those within, the campus combines biophilic design elements such as plants, natural lighting, and outside vistas from every desk. The courtyards feature artwork created by local artists as part of Google’s Artist In Residence program. The artwork is related to Bay Area environment and aids with building navigation.


In their blog post, the company shares:

“The campus is also on track to be the largest project certified by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) under any of their programs, at any certification level. As part of ILFI’s Living Building Challenge, we’re targeting a Water Petal certification, meaning the site is net-positive with all non-potable water demands being met using the recycled water generated on site. Above-ground ponds that gather rainwater year round and a building wastewater treatment system serve as water sources for cooling towers, flushing toilets and irrigating the landscape. This is a big step toward delivering on our commitment to replenish 120% of the water we consume by 2030.”


The campus covers 17 hectares adjacent to open space, and has 2 office buildings, as well as a 1,000-person event center and 240 short-term employee accommodation units.



This is a big move for tech companies trying to course-correct the impact they’ve had on the environment so far. Reading about this self-designed campus can give us some hope that the future may not be so bleak after all.


In other related news, Google may be creating an AR headset.


Photos via Google