Since completing our first data center in Prineville, Oregon in 2011, sustainability and efficiency have been core drivers of how we design, build and operate our infrastructure.
We incorporate a comprehensive set of sustainable design elements and construction practices that conserve energy and water, source materials responsibly, create healthy workspaces and keep waste out of landfills by recycling as much as possible. Now with 15 data centers globally – both online and under construction – we operate some of the most sustainable data centers in the world.
Building Sustainable Data Centers
Energy efficiency and renewable energy are the foundations of our data center sustainability strategy. Thanks to smart design decisions that add up across the full stack of technology inside them – from the servers that keep our platform running to the systems that power them up and keep them cool – our data centers save significant amounts of energy and water.
We use the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) green building rating system called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) to hold all of our data centers to a high sustainability standard. In 2019, four of our data center buildings in the U.S. officially earned LEED Gold certification. Our second building in Luleå, Sweden is the first to achieve LEED Platinum, the highest rating possible.
During construction, we aim to reduce our waste footprint and recycle as much of our materials as possible. By working closely with our general contractor and suppliers in Clonee, Ireland, we promoted a zero-waste culture and recycled 96 percent of the waste generated for the first three years of construction. This result helped our Clonee data center win Ireland’s Green Construction Award in February 2019.
Within our data center operations, we are constantly exploring ways to drive data center efficiency and sustainability by maximizing use of our server equipment to stay ahead of rising power demands while also reducing our impact.
Circular thinking is an important component within this process, where we embed circularity at every stage of our hardware’s life cycle by building repairability and recyclability principles into the hardware design process. We are also rethinking our approach to managing deprecated hardware, including server, rack and power equipment. By using hardware that are easy to repair and disassemble, we are able to redeploy and reuse various components of our hardware and systems, giving them a second life.
Annual Data Center Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)
Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is used to measure how efficiently our data centers convert energy into compute power. To measure the operating efficiency of our data centers, we compare the total amount of power we source from our utility with the power used to run the hardware within the data center.
The “ideal” PUE is 1.0, meaning that every electron entering the site is used to power the hardware inside the data center. The industry average PUE is 1.5, and we’re proud that our facilities have averaged 1.11 or below for the last five years. We still continue to look for additional ways to get even closer to 1.0.
Annual Data Center Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE)
Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) is a water efficiency metric that compares the amount of water we use to the amount of energy that is used by our hardware. Since we started tracking and reporting on this metric in 2012, we have consistently kept our WUE stable – and extremely low. We are also proud that Facebook was the first to report this metric publicly and we are still one of the few companies to share it.
Helping Data Center Communities
Whenever we build a new data center, we are driving jobs and economic and sustainability impact for local communities. In 2019, we published a report quantifying that impact.
For example, our Luleå Data Center in Sweden supported 1,461 construction and operational jobs per year between 2015 and 2018, driving €520 million of labor income. In the same timeframe, our Odense Data Center in Denmark supported 1,843 construction and operational jobs per year, ultimately driving €315 million of labor income. We also directly spent €599 million locally for Danish goods and services.
We are also thinking about our sustainability impact in our data center communities through an annual community grant program that funds projects focused on addressing regional social and environmental challenges, such as wildlife conservation and reforestation. In 2019, we also deployed over $500,000 in one-time grants supporting major regional sustainability projects across the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Driving Industry Standards
Beyond our efforts to build and operate sustainable data centers, we strive to help shape the industry’s standard for high performing data centers by partnering with thought leaders and organizations that share our vision. We are a member of the USGBC and we volunteer on technical committees to ensure LEED maintains a high bar for sustainability performance, doing our part to shape the future of its green rating system for data centers.
It is this collaborative mindset that also led us to co-found the Open Compute Project in 2011. This organization encourages leading technology innovators to share their products and designs around data center infrastructure with an open source community, inspiring more transparency and pioneering development across the technology industry. The work of our Open Compute Project engineers and developers has played a crucial role in shaping how Facebook designs and builds some of the world’s most efficient data centers.
Embedding Circular Thinking in Data Centers
We are constantly exploring ways to drive data center efficiency and sustainability by maximizing use of our server equipment to stay ahead of rising power demands while also reducing our impact.
Construction Waste Recycling at Clonee Data Center
In April 2016, when we began building the Clonee Data Center in County Meath – our first data center in Ireland and the second in Europe – we saw an opportunity to work with our general contractor to foster a zero-waste culture by finding inventive ways to reduce our materials footprint and recycle as much as possible.
Helping Bees Thrive in Ireland
In 2016, we were excited to grow our presence and continue investing in Ireland by building the Clonee Data Center in County Meath. During the construction process, we learned that approximately a third of Ireland’s bee species were being threatened with extinction because of reduced availability of food sources and safe nesting sites.