Facebook achieves LEED Gold Certification for Oregon data center

Facebook's data center in Prineville, Oregon has received LEED Gold Certification. The company has taken the opportunity to share more details about the facility and its many firsts.

Facebook has announced its Prineville, Oregon data center has received LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council. The social networking giant says it is finally recognized for wanting to design one of the most energy efficient data centers in the world.

The company says the entire physical infrastructure, from grid to gates, is designed with a focus on efficiency. The end result is a data center that requires 52 percent less energy to operate than a comparable facility built to code requirements, according to Facebook. Overall, it uses 38 percent less energy to do the same work as Facebook's existing leased facilities.

In addition to choosing Prineville, which has relatively cool temperatures year-round, Facebook pioneered several new technologies in the design and operation of the facility. These consist of new energy-efficient server designs and a low-energy evaporative cooling system that makes use of the low-humidity climate of Central Oregon's high-desert setting to eliminate traditional air conditioners. Other innovative systems include:

  • 100-percent outside air evaporative cooling that requires no cooling towers or chillers. Instead, the Prineville data center uses a highly sophisticated, low-energy design that draws cool outside air from the atmosphere into the building that is 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 Prineville data center also features many other environmental conservation features, both for building and maintaining the location. 27 percent of building materials used came from recycled products, 30 percent of materials used were locally sourced and manufactured, 91 percent of the wood used was FSC-certified from sustainability-managed forests, and 83 percent of construction waste was recycled or reused, preventing 530 tons of waste from ending up in a landfill.

At the completed facility, 100 percent of rainwater is captured and reused for all irrigation and toilet-flushing needs, a savings of 272,000 gallons of municipally-treated water per year. A solar energy installation generates an estimated 204,000 kilowatt hours per year, providing electricity to the office areas, which are heated through reuse of heat created by the servers.

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