Facebook launched a much greener data center with energy efficient servers in Oregon several months ago, and now they have received a LEED gold certification for it. The data center uses 52% less energy than a standard one.
LEED is a certification for green design and buildings, managed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Most companies don’t bother applying with their data centers, as there are rigorous standards that aren’t exactly easy for the brutal work of a data facility to achieve. According to Facebook, we “redesigned our entire physical infrastructure, from grid to gates.”
The value of a LEED certification is that it takes a bare bones holistic approach when looking at the sustainability and efficiency of a building. When scoring a building they consider location, materials, water use and even indoor environmental quality. In order to be certified, buildings must achieve a certain number of points under each category.
Gold is the second-highest level of LEED certification, with platinum being the highest.
Facebook implemented a variety of unique techniques to ensure their Oregon data center was operating efficiently. Perhaps the largest step was removing large chillers that can account for as much as half of a data center’s energy consumption, relying on evaporative cooling and outside air. They also designed servers to withstand considerably hotter and more humid environments.
Facebook also cut out several power transformers by using power at a higher voltage, with only 7% of the power lost in conversion as opposed to the average of 22-25% for a data center. Lastly, one of the most original innovations they’ve implemented is using ethernet cables to manage lights and turn them off when no one is around. Outside of the center there is a solar array to supply some clean power to operations.
The Internet isn’t exactly going to turn off anytime soon, so the next step for Internet-based companies to take in the name of success and credibility is to invest in clean, renewable power that will not only save money in the long run, but improve the environment and economy at the same time.