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

Green workplace 2.0

Linda Baker
Thursday, May 28, 2015
IMG 2808BY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

Reinventing capitalism. Office dumpster divers. Handprints versus carbon footprints.


Read more...

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


Read more...

Biker dreams

The Latest
Friday, May 15, 2015
bike at ater wynn-thumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking input from businesses on a $5.5 million initiative to create a network of biking, transit and pedestrian trails within Portland’s central city.


Read more...

100 Best Green Workplaces announced

News
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-1000pxwBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

More than 250 people turned out today for Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual celebration of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon.


Read more...

Photo Log: The 2015 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
greenthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Oregon Business celebrated the 100 Best Green Workplaces with an awards luncheon yesterday at the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Frothy Battle

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

Latest development in Nestlé plant saga sparks debate about the value of water.


Read more...

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


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