Pressure is on to make data centers green

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010

The pressure is on for Intel, Amazon, Facebook and Google to make their power-guzzling data centers green.

BY ADRIANNE JEFFRIES

 

0610_Data01
Locals reacted with shock and glee when Facebook revealed in January that it would be building its first data center in humble Prineville. A data center is not inherently exciting — it’s a warehouse stuffed with computers — but the arrival of a cool, fast-growing Internet company to this former mill town was an unexpected coup, and the timing could not have been better: Crook County struggled with an unemployment rate of 20% during the worst of the recession. WELCOME FACEBOOK quickly appeared on marquees at local businesses.

“This is certainly a first for Prineville. This is one of the largest economic development projects in the history of Central Oregon,” says Jason Carr, a manager at Economic Development for Central Oregon, a nonprofit that worked on the deal.

Carr says Facebook has already brought business to local restaurants, hotels, hardware stores and contractors. He now gets calls from companies who heard about the Facebook project in the Wall Street Journal and suddenly want to know more about Prineville. The “Prineville Data Center” page on Facebook has about 4,000 fans, dozens of whom posted thank-you notes, hearty welcomes and job inquiries in the comments section. One commenter from Bend wrote, “Honestly, as a Central Oregonian, how can anyone think this is anything but wonderful?”

More than 400,000 people disagree. That’s how many have joined a Facebook campaign opposing the data center, part of a full green guilt assault launched by Greenpeace less than a month after Facebook broke ground.

The offense?

Coal.

The digital age is supposed to be a greener era. Instead of driving to work, we telecommute. Instead of killing trees, we send emails appended with “please don’t print this.” But despite the analogy, the Internet is not a cloud. Every bit of data lives on a hard drive somewhere that is always on. Electricity generation is the leading source of carbon emissions in the U.S., and data centers are notorious power hogs; Facebook estimates its new data center will consume between 30 and 40 megawatts of electricity, says Carr, enough to power all the homes in Prineville more than twice over. That would make it one of the largest power users in Oregon.

A data center’s environmental impact is more than just energy use. These digital age factories can use up to 360,000 gallons of water a day for cooling. Copper wiring can exceed 60 miles. Data centers produce potentially toxic e-waste, which Oregon law does not require them to recycle (although most companies say they do). But energy use is the biggest issue for environmentalists. It’s also a big issue for huge technology companies that would rather be renowned for amazing breakthroughs than for burning coal and sucking rivers dry.

Click through for page two!
Want to make a comment? Go to the final page to comment.


 

More Articles

Greenpeace (temporarily) prevents Shell oil ship from leaving Portland

The Latest
Thursday, July 30, 2015
hangersBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St. John's Bridge in an attempt to prevent a ship from heading to the Arctic.


Read more...

Back to School

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone. 


Read more...

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Child care challenge

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
0927OHSUhealthystarts-thumbBY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER

Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.


Read more...

Photo log: Murray's Pharmacy

The Latest
Friday, July 17, 2015
OBM-Heppner-Kaplan thumbBY JASON KAPLAN

Photographer Jason Kaplan takes a look at Murray's Pharmacy in Heppner.  The family owned business is run by John and Ann Murray, who were featured in our July/August cover story: 10 Innovators in Rural Health Care.


Read more...

Baby. Boom!

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

A new co-working model disrupts office sharing, child care and work-life balance as we know it.


Read more...

Car be gone

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 06, 2015
070615car2goblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS