Facebook Planning Green Data Centre


Popular social networking site Facebook announces plans to build an environmentally-friendly data centre – its first – in Oregon

Social networking behemoth Facebook announced it has new broken ground with a data centre in Prineville, Ore.

Facebook’s vice president of technical operations Jonathan Heiliger said the company is upscaling its technical infrastructure to meet the demands of its users, which number 350 million worldwide. The building will showcase several energy-saving and “green” technologies, such as an evaporative cooling system, an airside economiser and the re-use of server heat.

The evaporative cooling system evaporates water to cool the incoming air, as opposed to traditional chiller systems that require more energy intensive equipment and minimises water consumption by using outside air. The facility will be cooled by bringing in colder air from the outside. This feature will operate for between 60 percent and 70 percent of the year and the remainder of the year requires the use of the evaporative cooling system to meet temperature and humidity requirements. A portion of the excess heat created by the computer servers will be captured and used to heat office space in the facility during the colder months.

“It is important to understand what a data centre is and how it impacts your Facebook experience. A data centre is a central location that houses thousands of computer servers, which are networked together and linked to the outside world through fibre optic cables,” Heilger explained. “Think of a data centre as essentially one very large computer that contains the collective computing infrastructure to make web properties, like Facebook, work.”

The data centre will also feature proprietary Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) technology. The Prineville data centre will use a new, patent-pending UPS system that reduces electricity usage by as much as 12 percent. Heilger said the company has needed to add more servers and data centre capacity to keep up with the increasing number of people who are joining the site. Oregon newspaper The Bulletin reported the town’s enterprise zone, which permitted Facebook to receive a $2.8 million (£1.7m) tax break per year, was a critical part of the decision. “If the enterprise zone didn’t exist in Prineville, this project would not be moving forward,” Jason Carr, manager of the Prineville office of Economic Development for Central Oregon, told the paper.

“Initially, as most Internet startups do, we leased data centre space alongside other companies in the same building,” Heilger wrote on the company blog. “As our user base continued to grow and we developed Facebook into a much richer service, we reached the point where it was more efficient to lease entire buildings on our own. We are now ready to build our own.”

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