May 24, 2024

Purdue, Google announce sustainability and AI research partnership

Collaboration seeks to develop innovative solutions for eco-friendly industrial buildings 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University and Google announced Thursday (May 23) a new collaborative research project aimed at exploring the use of AI to develop innovative solutions for low-carbon industrial building design. The project seeks to leverage AI’s power to explore new materials, technologies and design strategies that can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of industrial buildings, such as data centers, not only across the U.S. but globally.

“Google is committed to using AI to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including climate change,” said Ben Townsend, global head of infrastructure and sustainability at Google. “We are excited to partner with Purdue University on this important research project, which has the potential to accelerate the adoption of low-carbon building practices in the industrial sector.”


Conventional construction processes and physical plant operations of industrial structures pose persistent challenges when builders seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That’s one reason why Purdue and Google are partnering on research efforts to develop new, sustainable building design approaches.

One focus area will be to prioritize the use of low-carbon building materials. The partners said research findings from this collaboration will be shared with the wider research community and industry stakeholders, aiming to boost the adoption of sustainable building practices.

“By combining Purdue’s expertise in engineering and building science with Google’s cutting-edge AI capabilities, we aim to develop innovative solutions that can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of industrial buildings,” said Travis Horton, a professor in Purdue’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering who also holds a courtesy appointment in mechanical engineering. “This collaboration is a testament to our commitment to sustainability and our belief in the transformative potential of AI.” 

AI is a foundational component of the Institute for Physical Artificial Intelligence, a Purdue Computes initiative.

The partners said AI has the potential to have a profound impact on industrial construction, as it could provide innovative applications of low-carbon building materials, which would support reducing operational costs and making progress on global sustainability goals. 

“At Google we are committed to sustainability, and we believe that technology can play a critical role in reducing carbon emissions,” said Townsend, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Purdue.

Google, which owns and operates data centers all over the world, is continually examining systems, including innovative construction design processes, to reduce the carbon footprint of its facilities to ensure efficiency and eco-friendly construction.

“The potential to combine Purdue’s understanding of innovation and design processes with Google’s AI capabilities to enable highly efficient and scalable sustainable design foreshadows the far-reaching promise of AI to help society address its most complex challenges,” said Joe Sinfield, a professor in Purdue’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the director of Purdue’s Institute for Innovation Science. 

About Purdue University

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Writer/Media contact: Wes Mills,

Source: Travis Horton

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