Efforts to make the data centers of major tech companies more energy efficient were recognized last week with LEED certifications awarded to a Facebook facility in Oregon, a Yahoo! site in Nebraska and a vast QTS data center in Atlanta -- the second largest in the world.
Quality Technology Services, one of the larger providers of data center facilities and managed services, earned LEED-Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for a 990,000-square-foot site in Georgia, the company said.
The firm has worked to reduce and offset power at its Atlanta Metro Data Center in the four years since purchasing the property. Measures include installing a rainwater capture system as part of the site's cooling infrastructure and improving power usage effectiveness by 11.4 percent since January 2010.
This past summer, the company hosted an EDF Climate Corps fellow who teamed up with the data center's operations and engineering experts to identify further ways to improve efficiency. As a result, the company plans to invest $10 million to carry out the work.
Facebook also received LEED-Gold certification for its data center in Prineville, Oregon, which was designed to slash energy use. The firm said its 147,000-square-foot facility uses 52 percent less energy than a comparably sized data center built merely to code.
GreenBiz Managing Editor Matt Wheeland detailed Facebook's plan for the data center at the start of the building project. Facebook ticked off a list of the green systems at its site in a blog on Thursday. They include:
• A sophisticated outside air evaporative cooling system that eliminates the need for cooling towers and chillers.
• Custom servers that use 38 percent less energy.
• A new design for an on-site electrical substation that slashes energy lost during conversion and delivery to the data center to 7.5 percent. Usually energy loss runs 21 to 27 percent.
The facility that houses the data center also was constructed with a number of environmental considerations:
• 27 percent of the building materials were made of recycled products and 30 percent of the materials were locally sourced.
• 91 percent of the wood used was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
• 83 percent of construction waste was recycled, diverting about 530 tons of waste from landfills.
• A rainwater harvesting systems supplies all the water needed for irrigation and flushing toilets.
• A solar power system produces about 204 megawatts of electricity for offices, which are warmed by reusing heat from the data center servers.
Also last week, Yahoo! received LEED-Silver certification for its data center in La Vista, Nebraska. The facility was built in a former warehouse that the company acquired. Yahoo! plans to detail the elements that led to the certification later, but Christina Page, the company's director of climate and energy strategy, confirmed Friday that the firm received word of its achievement from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Photo of data center via Shutterstock.com.