Efficient Cogeneration Power For New Facebook HQ

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Facebook is ensuring its new headquarters in California is a fit place for sustainable living

Facebook is ensuring that its new headquarters in Menlo Park, California, will be as green as possible. This will include an energy generation plant on the roof of at least one of the buildings.

A cogeneration system for heat and power (CHP) will be installed by Cogenra to provide a system that will reduce energy consumption at the site, thereby saving on natural gas and grid electricity. This will provide hot water and will provide power required by Facebook’s fitness centre. This will be available to just under 2,000 staff that will move from the nearby Palo Alto and San Francisco offices.

Recycling the Sun

The 57 acre site was formerly home to Sun Microsystems and was sold to Facebook by Oracle and can house a maximum population of 3,600 staff. At present growth rates, this will mean that in three years staff expansion may have reached this level so the social networking giant has also bought land across the freeway from the site for future growth.

Cogenra claims that the CHP will give a return on its investment within five years as the 24-module unit pumps 60kW of heat and power into the building. The cogeneration system is even more efficient than an electricity-only solar generator.

By integrating the photovoltaic and thermal generators, the installer reckons that it will generate five times the energy and will provide a three-fold reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions offered by a solar-power system. The arrays will also only cost half as much.

Gilad Almogy, CEO of Cogenra, said, ”While often overlooked compared to traditional electricity demands, corporate campuses and other community-based facilities, all require large amounts of hot water on a daily basis. With Cogenra’s unique combination, the hot water and electricity components complement one another, further optimising energy output and returns.”

Facebook is trying to ensure that the whole site is as environmentally friendly as possible and has sponsored three advocates from the Environmental Defense Fund Fellowship Programme to help make the campus compliant with current best practices.

One current flaw in the plan is that the site is a ten-minute drive from the nearest rail station so it may be necessary to provide shuttle transport. The idea was to discourage staff from polluting the area by driving to work and this is not likely to help that cause. However, there is a Cal Train branch line that passes very near to the site so it could be possible that Facebook has plans to have a stop made for its employees.

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