Facebook’s data centre has been praised for its energy efficiency, despite criticism from Greenpeace
Facebook’s Oregon data centre has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification by the US Green Building Council, despite Greenpeace’s continued opposition to the social network’s choice of power supplier.
The rating recognises the efficient use of energy and resources during the construction and operation of the data centre, which Facebook claims uses 52 percent less energy than a comparable facility.
It’s not easy being green
“When we first envisioned our Prineville data centre a couple of years ago, we knew we wanted it to be one of the most energy efficient in the world,” said Facebook, “We’re excited to share that all our hard work on the first phase of our Prineville facility has been recognised with LEED gold certification from the US Green Building Council.”
Facebook’s first wholly owned data centre uses custom servers which use 38 percent less energy and can be cooled using outside air instead of using energy-hungry chillers, thanks to Oregon’s climate. Outside air cools the servers while a simplified process for delivering power ensures fewer conversions and reduces the amount of energy lost.
Energy efficiency was also a priority during the construction of the centre, which made use of recycled products, locally sourced and manufactured materials and wood from sustainably managed forests.
Construction waste was recycled or reused, preventing 430 tons of waste from reaching landfill, while the reuse of rainwater saves 272,000 gallons (1.24 billion litres) of municipally treated water each year. Efficiency is further enhanced by using solar energy to power offices, which are heated by reusing the heat created by the servers.
In April, Facebook released the specifications for its custom servers, but this failed to appease Greenpeace who oppose the centre’s use of electricity from PacifiCorp, a company which generates two thirds of its electricity from coal.
Greenpeace has gone as far as to pay for television adverts in California to put pressure on Facebook, which has defended itself, stating that it is more concerned about using power effectively rather than how it is produced. It added that it may have been able to source cleaner power elsewhere, but would not have benefited from the cool climate.
Facebook’s green credentials were strengthened recently when it announced the construction of a sustainable data centre in northern Sweden, which will use hydroelectric power and will use the Arctic temperatures to cool its servers.