Sustainable data centers
At Facebook, we are proud to design, build, and operate some of the most sustainable data centers in the world.
Data centers power the internet and make it possible to connect with the communities that are central to our lives.
Efficiency and clean energy are key components of our strategy to design, build and operate sustainable data centers. Our data centers achieve LEED® Gold level certification under LEED for Data Centers®, the preeminent certification program for sustainable design and construction of high-performing data centers.
We’re proud of how efficiently our data centers operate today, but we’re always looking for new ways to increase that efficiency. In 2018, we announced that a new State Point Liquid Cooling technology will allow us to build and operate efficiently in regions where this was previously only possible through traditional, inefficient cooling designs.
With each new data center we build, we add renewable energy to the local grid. And we make sure that all of our renewable energy projects are in the same electric grid as our data centers.
Often, by creating new energy tariffs in collaboration with local utilities and others, we make it possible for other businesses to purchase more clean energy as well. This is an important part of our strategy to address climate change both across our operations and our communities. For more information on our approach, see our case study on Green Tariffs.
Our data centers also focus on eliminating waste, boosting wellness, incorporating greener products and being a good neighbor in the communities we serve. Taken together, these strategies help us achieve LEED® Gold certification for all of our data center projects. And, as a leader in efficiency and renewable energy, we’re a member of the U.S. Green Building Council® and active on the LEED® Advisory Committee to help shape the future of its green rating system for data centers.
LEED®, USGBC® and related logos are trademarks owned by the U.S. Green Building Council® and are used with permission.
Watch this video to find out more about what makes our data centers cutting-edge:
Efficiency by design
Ever since we built our first data center, we’ve been working with experts and innovators around the world to make every facility more efficient and more sustainable.
Focus on requirements
We avoid using any unnecessary components in our data centers and in our hardware.
Prioritize water stewardship
We believe that every drop matters. Thanks to our efficiency programs, our data centers are 80% more water efficient than the average data center.
Increase renewable energy
We add renewable energy to the electric grids in communities where we work, and increase renewable options for other businesses in those communities. Locating our data centers where we can access and source renewables is a core part of our data center site selection process.
We’re making our data centers energy efficient through innovative design.
Our hyper-efficient Open Compute Project servers can operate in a higher-temperature environment than traditional equipment. This lowers the amount of energy needed to keep our servers cool and makes it possible for Facebook data centers to use outdoor air for cooling instead of energy-intensive air-conditioning units.
We’re expanding our sustainability toolkit with machine learning.
We’re also finding more ways to use our coding and engineering expertise to boost our sustainability toolkit. As part of this effort, we’ve developed a machine learning model that helps us monitor, predict, and optimize the efficiency of our data center operations.
Machine learning provides a powerful tool that enables us to optimize the performance of our data centers, using algorithms to parse massive sets of data in search of patterns, correlations, or unexpected values.
The model takes in and evaluates several key inputs, including seasonality, weather, and IT capacity. These values are updated by the minute and the model then compares the current data to historical information about the building’s operations. Using these datasets, the model provides an accurate gauge of how well our systems are performing and, as needed, highlights where we can make improvements or investigate unexpected values.
Sourcing energy responsibly
Even with an extremely efficient data center fleet, we still need energy to run our servers, so we care a lot about where our energy comes from.
We set an aggressive goal to support our global operations with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020. We focus on bringing new wind and solar projects to the same electric grids that power our data centers. In 2019, we contracted for an additional 1.7 gigawatts of renewable energy projects, bringing our global portfolio to over 5 gigawatts. As a founding member of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) and a member of RE100 (a global initiative of influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity), we work with an extensive network of other companies to scale corporate procurement of clean energy across industries. Our data centers are currently supported by over 1.3 gigawatts of operating renewable energy projects – this is about as much power as 130 million LED light bulbs.
We team up with utilities, state regulators, and other customers to determine the best clean energy solutions for our data centers and a cleaner grid. This often includes participating in regulatory dockets to encourage utilities to add more renewable energy and working through regulatory processes with local utilities to enable green tariffs that other companies can use as well. These green tariffs allow customers to purchase renewable energy matched to their consumption, which help promote new investments in clean energy.
As Facebook grows, we aim to use more renewable energy and make it a higher percentage of our energy mix. In 2019, we achieved 86% renewable energy for our operations.
Growing the grid in Utah
How partnering with local providers is creating more clean energy for a whole community.
In 2018, we announced plans to build a new 970,000 square foot data center in Eagle Mountain, Utah.
We partnered with Rocky Mountain Power to develop a new Green Power Tariff called Electric Service Schedule 34, which allows qualified customers to receive more power from new renewable sources. In 2018, Facebook became the first user of this option. As part of the project, we’re also investing more than $100 million to improve energy, water, and transportation infrastructure. This includes the construction of a new electrical substation that will provide new power delivery capacity to the region. Additionally, we have executed contracts for more than 450 megawatts of new solar energy projects in the state.
We prioritize water stewardship across our operations and are proud to say our data centers are among the most efficient in the world.
Thanks to our highly efficient cooling designs, our data centers are 80% more water efficient than average. In 2019 alone, we saved over 15 million cubic meters (4 billion gallons) of water worldwide – the equivalent of filling 50 million bathtubs of water.
Increasing our use of renewable energy is also driving this efficiency as producing wind and solar energy takes less water than producing energy from fossil fuels. As we move closer to supporting our operations with 100% renewable energy, we’re also reducing our water footprint. Between 2013 and 2017, we estimate that the energy generated from our solar and wind energy procurement efforts resulted in savings of over 2 million cubic meters (over 500 million gallons) of water when compared with sourcing energy from the standard utility energy mix in the United States.
Keeping servers cool in locations with environmental challenges — like high levels of dust, extreme humidity, or elevated salinity—creates additional opportunities to innovate as we work to minimize water use. For example, we use indirect evaporative cooling in conditions like this and have been working with partners to make this technology even more efficient. In partnership with Nortek Air Solutions, we’ve developed the StatePoint Liquid Cooling (SPLC) system, which is an advanced evaporative cooling technology that uses cold water instead of cold air. This is the first time that technology of this kind will be applied to data centers, and it allows us to build highly water-efficient data centers where direct cooling is not possible.
Since water is a shared resource, we strive to be a good water steward in our communities. We invest in circular systems that reuse water as many times as possible before releasing it to wastewater treatment plants. We also invest in water restoration projects in water stressed regions to promote long-term sustainability of the watersheds that we are part of.
Materials and Design
From the start, we embed sustainability across our data centers.
Systems thinking plays a key role in our design process. Our data centers are LEED certified, which provides an important baseline for sustainable design. From there we go above and beyond, innovating in areas where we can have the biggest positive impact.
Through our Healthy and Sustainable Materials program, we assess materials before we use them in our buildings, selecting options based on their environmental performance and working to eliminate hazardous chemicals.
We partner to find better materials in unexpected places.
We’re always looking for ways to reduce the impact the hardware we use in our data centers has on the environment. Material selection is an important part of that strategy. For example, a few years ago, while working closely with our internal design team, we previously identified a material that had not been used in data center hardware to replace certain parts with a high carbon impact.
This material—natural fiber-filled polypropylene (NFFPP)—is derived from renewable jute fibers. We developed and tested this material for our specific applications, namely in many different parts inside and outside the rack, including adapters, bus bar covers, and other mechanical parts inside the server. As part of our commitment to contribute to joint innovations with our global peers, we also shared our application for NFFPP with the Open Compute Project’s community of manufacturers and engineers to encourage sustainable design improvements through material choices.
We continue to explore new ways to use better materials in our products and facilities.
We’re using circular thinking to cut e-waste.
We integrate life-cycle thinking into how we design, operate, and decommission our hardware. We’ve found opportunities to reuse hardware within our own data center environment and when equipment reaches end of life in our infrastructure, we have engaged third parties who in turn remarket components, so they can have a second useful life.
When remarketing isn’t an option, our recycling partners breakdown equipment for reclamation and recycling. We’re proud of our work to divert e-waste from landfill, and we care deeply about making sure that nothing goes to waste.