The start of 2012 beckons us to look at ways we can continue to simplify and lessen our carbon footprint. While it’s no secret that Facebook recently completed a data center in Central Oregon, what most may not know is that the facility in Prineville consumes far less power than traditional computing facilities.
According to a Wired.com article, “Facebook leases data center space in North California and Virginia, and says the Prineville data center requires 38 percent less energy than these other facilities – while costing 24 percent less.” They have released the blue print of this data center to the general public as part of the Open Compute Project (opencompute.org): “By releasing Open Compute Project technologies as open hardware, our goal is to develop servers and data centers following the model traditionally associated with open source software projects.” “The ultimate goal of the Open Compute Project is to spark a collaborative dialogue. We’re already talking with our peers about how we can work together on Open Compute Project technology.”
Above: Facebook Data Center #1 - photo by Pete Erickson
With Facebook taking the initiative to release their energy-efficient data center model to the world, one can only hope that other visionaries might do the same. Buildings accounted for 38.9% of total U.S. energy consumption in 2005, and 72% of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2006 (U.S. Department of Engery and Annual Energy Review). Sustainability is becoming standard practice in the building and construction industry, and energy-saving models are now regarded as necessary – not optional. Not surprisingly, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is becoming a global trend. According to GreenBiz Group’s fourth annual report, there is 7.4% growth in international LEED projects, compared to just a growth of 1.5% in the United States.
Construction on Facebook’s second Prineville data center is in the works, and more data centers are on the horizon. Crews are learning new energy saving methods such as capturing rainwater for irrigation and flushing, installing evaporative cooling systems and extensive use of solar panels to save hundreds of thousands of kilowatt-hours per year. Needless to say, this is just the beginning of an architectural trend that has been in the making for quite some time and the leaders in technology are running with it, with the hope that the rest of the world will follow.