Facebook's "Green" European Data Center

Image Shot from one of Facebook's Data Centers

As power consumption eats away at the environment and company budgets, many organizations constantly look for ways that they can harness renewable energy to cut down costs and improve their image with regard to the environment.

Facebook’s first data center in Europe, based in Lulea, Sweden, is a good example of the possibilities of this:

Lulea is on the edge of the Arctic Circle, and has a mean annual temperature of around 1 C, with average summer highs of around 20 C, allowing Facebook to save money by cooling its data center with fresh air rather than air conditioning.

Using free air cooling will help Facebook increase a key measure of data center efficiency, its PUE (power usage effectiveness). PUE is calculated as the total power consumption of the data center, including cooling and lighting systems, divided by the power consumption of IT systems. The less power wasted on ancillary functions such as cooling and lighting, the more energy-efficient the data center becomes.

Average PUEs for major data centers typically lie between 1.6 and 1.99, according to a survey published by the Uptime Institute in May. Capgemini said last December that its Merlin data center in the U.K. had a factory-tested PUE of 1.1.

Facebook has not yet announced its target PUE for the Lulea data center.

The servers in the data center will primarily run on hydroelectric power, drawn from the nearby Lule river. According to the city’s business development agency, Lulea has the cheapest electricity in Europe. That said, Facebook has not yet announced its expected PUE for the data center.

Is green computing an option where you work? Share with us some of your experiences or ideas in making it work.