At Facebook, we are proud to design and operate some of the most sustainable data centers in the world. Since we broke ground on our first data center in Prineville, Oregon in 2010, we have worked to minimize our impact by incorporating design elements and construction practices that prioritize resource efficiency and clean energy, while continuing to grow our presence to connect more people around the world.
Building and Operating Sustainable Data Centers
Supporting our data centers with 100 percent renewable energy and saving energy and water through efficient designs are the foundations of our strategy to operate sustainable data centers.
A key component of that strategy is ensuring our buildings comply with industry standards, specifically the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)—a globally recognized third-party verification standard for sustainable buildings developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).
Since our Prineville data center earned the LEED Gold certification in 2011, we have continued to achieve Gold certification levels—or higher—for all of our current and new data centers. In 2020, five of our new construction projects—located across Denmark, Ireland and the U.S.—were awarded LEED Gold certification. Additionally, our Singapore data center, Facebook’s first project in the APAC region, earned Platinum certification under Green Mark, a sustainability standard created by the Singapore government.
As part of our effort to reach net zero emissions for our value chain in 2030, we explored strategies to reduce the environmental impacts linked to construction activities and building materials like concrete and steel. Last year, in Altoona, Iowa, we began piloting the use of electric construction equipment, such as the Cat D6XE, the world’s first electric drive dozer which uses 25 percent less diesel fuel compared to traditional bulldozers. We also piloted the Embodied Carbon Construction Calculator (EC3), a new online tool that design and construction teams can use to procure materials that reduce a building’s overall carbon footprint.
Annual Data Center Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)
Annual Data Center Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE)
We prioritize embedding circularity principles into how we design, build, and operate our data centers to elevate resource efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint. In 2020, our five projects that earned LEED Gold diverted an average of 78 percent of construction materials from landfills. And to help reduce our overall waste footprint, we also collaborated with one of our major suppliers on an initiative to minimize the amount of packaging needed to ship fiber optic cables.
Our circularity principles also extend to the kinds of materials we use. To lower the carbon impact of concrete—one of the largest sources of global greenhouse gas emissions—we partnered with researchers from the University of Urbana-Champaign’s civil engineering department to use artificial intelligence algorithms to develop low-carbon mix designs that use high amounts of byproducts from other industries as a replacement for cement. We hope to scale this pilot initiative to other facilities where possible in the coming years.
Economic Impact on Communities
Facebook is committed to investing in the vitality of communities where we develop data centers. When we build a data center in a community, Facebook drives job growth and contributes to economic and community development in the area.
According to our latest data center Economic Impact Report in the U.S., Facebook’s direct investments from 2017 through 2019 in data center construction and operations contributed a cumulative $18.6 billion to the U.S. GDP and supported over 178,000 jobs. The study found that for every $1 million in capital expenditures, we support 14 jobs, and for every $1 million in operating expenditures, we support 18 jobs. When constructing data centers, we estimate more than 1,000 construction workers are on-site at peak. Once completed, a data center usually supports over 100 jobs to manage facility and site operations. In EMEA, our data center spending in Ireland from 2015 to 2018 drove a total of €721 million (approximately $875 million) of sales activity and €188 million (approximately $228 million) of GDP in the country’s construction sector.
In addition to driving economic impact, Facebook is also committed to supporting the vitality of local communities by investing in schools, nonprofit organizations, and community projects through direct grantmaking and volunteering. Once a data center is operational, we launch our Community Action Grants program which provides grants focused on leveraging the power of technology for community benefit, helping people connect online or off and improving local science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education on an annual basis.
Moving Industry Standards Forward
We work closely with industry organizations and experts to help shape the industry’s standards for high-performance data centers. We continue to collaborate with the United States Green Building Council to shape design and construction standards and best practices, deepening our collaboration through our involvement in technical committees.
And through our Open Compute Project (OCP), we connect with other leading technology innovators to exchange products and designs around data center infrastructure and hardware with an open source community. In 2020, the OCP Incubation Committee, a working group dedicated to establishing the foundational and operational aspects of the OCP, outlined key strategies to enable greater circularity within the data center industry.