Facebook’s New Data Center Is Socially Responsible

Corporate social responsibility is big news. Each year, as reported by Forbes, the Reputation Institute puts out a list of the best companies ranked for their Corporate social responsibility. For 2015, Google, Microsoft, the Walt Disney Company, and BMW, all shared the number one position with Corporate social responsibility ranking scores so close to each other. It was a four-way tie for first place. Daimler, Sony, Intel, Volkswagen, Apple, and Nestle all made the top-ten list. Facebook was not on the Corporate social responsibility top-ten list this year, but that may be about to change.

Data Centers Going Green

During 2009, Greenpeace started a campaign to get Facebook to use renewable and cleaner forms of energy to run the Facebook data centers. By 2011, both Greenpeace and Facebook announced they had come to an agreement on this issue.

The enormous new Facebook data center will run on 100% renewable energy. Facebook plan is for all of its five data centers to use 50% of the electricity from renewable sources by 2018, with the goal to achieve 100% renewable energy use thereafter.

Electricity use for data centers is one of the largest expenses in their operations. Computerworld called data centers the newest big polluters, noting that in the United States data centers have used 91 billion kilowatt hours (KWh) during 2013. This amount will increase to 139 billion KWh by the year 2020. It is a big challenge to find ways to run data centers more efficiently. The Register says that Internet technology, in total, including the data centers, computers, and mobile devices now consumes ten percent of the entire world’s electricity.

Wind Power Wins

The new Facebook data center under construction in Fort Worth, Texas will get its electricity from a huge wind farm. This was the Facebook company’s mandate. Yet Wired reported it was not such an easy task to get the approvals necessary for buying the electricity from the wind farm. The process took over a year. This is the fifth data center for Facebook and it is massive. When complete, it will be 1.25 million square feet and cost about $1 billion to construct. The wind farm is a separate project that is already under construction for the cost of $287 million. Amazon is also building a huge wind farm in North Carolina to run one of its data centers.

Cost Savings

Facebook predicts the new facility will be 38% more efficient in energy-usage than its previous data centers and cost 24% less to build out the facility. The efforts by Facebook to save on energy consumption saved the company over $2 billion in the past three years.

Environmental Impact

When large companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon turn towards renewable energy sources, it makes a huge positive impact by reducing environmental pollutants that would be created by using other types of energy sources. Hydropower, wind power, and solar power are simply better choices for these huge data centers.

Conclusion

It is good to see more companies paying attention to their corporate social responsibility. Great companies become better when they include social responsibility as part of their mission statement and then take meaningful actions in alignment what that mission.

Katrina is a product specialist for RackSolutions, the market leader in designing and manufacturing custom racking products for the IT industry! You can read more about our company here.