Data center facilities pro

Oct 21 2010   3:42PM GMT

Facebook shares energy efficiency tips amid coal concerns of its Oregon data center

Ryan Arsenault Ryan Arsenault Profile: Ryan Arsenault

That kind-of-a-big website Facebook yesterday released some green strategies that it has been implementing in its data centers, and it probably couldn’t have come at a better time for the company.

This could be construed as damage control – or clever timing — on the social network giant’s part amid Greenpeace jumping down their throats when the company announced early this year the building of a Prineville, Ore., data center in a part of Oregon served by PacifiCorp coal power.

The report, posted on the network yesterday by Jay Park, Director of Data Center Engineering at Facebook, mentions that the company has learned a thing or two about data center energy efficiency with its rapidly expanding footprint, and because of it, its data centers are now reaping the benefits. Facebook claims that one of its data centers saves about 2.5 million kW hours annually, translating to an annual cost savings of $230,000. Environmental concerns taken into consideration, Facebook has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 967 metric tons annually.

To garner the savings, using this particular data center as a model, Facebook said it’s improving airflow distribution by rolling out cold-aisle containment. In addition, the company is reducing cooling levels by reducing the unnecessary speeds it server fans were spinning at while still keeping temperatures within the recommended data center range. It also shut down 15 CRAH units as it discovered that they were not needed. Finally, Facebook has increased energy efficiency by raising the set point temperature of CRAH units while maintaining uniform temps in the cold aisles. The company also raised the chilled water temperature from 44 to 52F, which reduced the chilled water system load by 171 tons per hour.

While Facebook mentioned all of these energy efficiency strategies of this particular data center, it wasn’t clear if this was in reference to its Prineville data center. A recent interview with two Facebook execs, however, did tackle the coal concerns in its Oregon location, and one exec mentioned that the company would be working with PacifiCorp on becoming more reliant on renewable energy. It certainly is noteworthy, though, that Facebook released its data center energy efficiency strategy yesterday and didn’t use it as an opportunity to discuss renewable forms of energy and tackle the Greenpeace concerns head on. So for the moment, the company still seems to be betting on coal with its Oregon data center.

The full report on Facebook’s data center energy efficiency can be found here. Facebook has also set up a fan page of its new Prineville data center, which is set to open in the first quarter of 2011. Sound off @datacenterTT on whether you think Facebook is tackling energy efficiency effectively enough.

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