Google Shines Some Light on its Green Data Centers

Google Shines Some Light on its Green Data Centers

Google, likely the world's largest single user of IT hardware, has designed its own servers and data centers in such a way as to use an estimated five times less energy than typical data centers.

That's the word out of Mountain View, as Google Execs raised the curtain just a little bit on the ways it has committed to saving costs, saving energy and pioneering clean technology for the IT world.

It started with a post on the official Google blog by Urs Hölzle, the company's senior vice president of operations. In the post, Hölzle explains how the company has been working on developing energy-efficient servers and data centers for "nearly a decade," and that in the course of searching on Google, an individual's personal computer will use more energy than the server that's handling the query.

Hölzle also used the post to unveil a new page on Google's corporate website highlighting the company's commitment to sustainable computing.

The site also lays out Google's five-step plan for green IT:
1. Minimize electricity used by servers
2. Reduce the energy used by the data center facilities themselves
3. Conserve precious fresh water by using recycled water instead
4. Reuse or recycle all electronic equipment that leaves our data centers
5. Engage with our peers to advance smarter energy practices
Among the details Google is sharing with the IT world are that its house-made servers are 85 percent power-efficient, saving them $30 per server per year in energy costs, and offered some hints as to what's inside those boxes: the company has stripped out all non-essential elements from its server designs, with graphics chips offered as one example.

In addition to explaining how Google uses water evaporation in its Oregon cooling towers, the company also announced a goal that two of its data centers will run on 100 percent recycled water by the end of this year, and that recycled water will make up 80 percent of the company's total water use by 2010.

Google also announced that it is committed to 100 percent electronics reuse or recycling: the company makes its suppliers commit to socially responsible labor practices and to keeping all e-waste out of landfills, out of incinerators, and not exporting it to developing nations.