Sponsored by Energy Trust

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

Corner Office: Steve Tatone

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits about the president and CEO of AKT Group.


Read more...

Kill the Meeting

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.


Read more...

Woman of Steel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Tamara Lundgren tackles the challenges—without getting trampled.


Read more...

Crowdfunding 2.0

News
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
120214-crowdfund-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


Read more...

Fly Zone

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

The black soldier fly’s larvae are among the most ravenous and least picky eaters on earth.


Read more...

The short list: 5 hot coffee shops for entrepreneurs

Contributed Blogs
Friday, November 14, 2014

CupojoeBY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Oregon entrepreneurs reveal their favorite caffeine hangouts.


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