"Solar panels help power Facebook's LEED gold data center in Prineville"
Facebook's new energy-efficient data center in Oregon has received top marks from the U.S. Green Building Council. The data center, located in Prineville, Oregon and designed to be "one of the most energy efficient in the world," has received LEED Gold Certification from the council. The end result is a data center that requires 52 percent less energy to operate than a comparable facility, said the company.
By Aislyn Greene
Facebook's new energy-efficient data center in Oregon has received top marks from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The data center, located in Prineville, Oregon and designed to be "one of the most energy efficient in the world," has received LEED Gold Certification from the council.
The end result is a data center that requires 52 percent less energy to operate than a comparable facility, said the company.
Facebook said innovation was key to efficiency. Here are a few of the new technologies used (check out the video here):
100-percent outside air evaporative cooling that requires no cooling towers or chillers. While typical buildings require energy-intensive cooling towers or chillers to keep their interiors at the right temperatures for servers, the Prineville data center has no cooling tower and no chiller. Instead, it uses a highly sophisticated, low-energy design that draws cool outside air from the atmosphere into the building that it then cooled further through evaporation.
Custom servers that use less 38 percent less energy and can operate at higher temperatures to reduce mechanical cooling needs.
Novel electrical distribution from an on-site substation that eliminates unnecessary losses from transformations and conversions. The process for delivering power from the on-site substation has been simplified, resulting in fewer conversions of power between the substation and the data center, which in turn reduces the amount of energy lost. Typical energy loss during conversion runs at 21 to 27 percent; at Prineville data center the loss is only 7.5 percent.
The building itself was built with conservation in mind. Facebook said 27 percent of building materials used came from recycled products, and 83 percent of construction waste was recycled or reused, preventing 530 tons of waste from ending up in a landfill.
At the data center, 100 percent of rainwater is captured and reused for all irrigation and toilet-flushing needs and electricity in the office areas is provided by solar panels. The offices are heated through reuse of heat created by the servers.
Facebook broke ground on the new data center -- the first for the company -- in January, saying it was drawn to the central Oregon town due to its "reliable and affordable power, a favorable atmospheric climate, and the prospect of state and local tax incentives."
As with most data centers, the facility doesn't employ a ton of people. At the time, Facebook 35 people will work there.
The Northwest has grown as a hot bed of data centers in recent years. Quincy, in Eastern Washington, also has become a major center, with companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Intuit drawn to the area for its cheap, dependable hydroelectric power drawn from the nearby Columbia River and tax exemptions.