This year has seen a spate of Information Technology and Internet based service companies moving out of the online realm and into the built one, becoming promotional leaders in their own right in sustainable construction. And what a fantastic promotion that is. Google, Facebook and Apple, as I.T. and online brands, have the ability to reach billions of people. Facebook has 800 million active users; two billion searches are undertaken daily on Google and Apple just saw a 2011 second quarter revenue of $24.67 billion. These are an influential group of brands.
And anything they promote has the potential to influence the globe.
This year alone Google has opened its first retail and office building in London, both of which have high green standards; Apple has revealed plans for a sustainable headquarters of ‘Campus’ in Cupertino California, and now in addition to their latest green Data Centre in Lulea, Sweden, Facebook has announced that their Prineville Centre has reached LEED Gold Certification.
The Oregon-based centre lies on a foundation of innovation and efficiency as a basic ideology, making energy efficient changes to the technology’s architecture in order to lower excess carbon emissions.
Major technology changes have been seen through the implementation of evaporative cooling, custom servers and “Novel electrical distribution from an on-site substation”.
Evaporative cooling is a simple and effective way of creating a moderate climate using little energy through a system that uses the evaporation of outside air for cooling rather than high energy cooling towers. This system has been carried 100% throughout the building. The new custom servers have been created to use 38% less energy through sophisticated cooling technologies. The last major change to the electrical distribution is simply a reworking of the power flow from the on site substation to the date centre so that more energy is saved, losing only 7.5% of energy in comparison to traditional conversions which lose 21-27%.
As with the centre in Sweden, orientation and location have been used in their capacity, with the cool clime channeled to aid in the cooling of the various machines.
Further green statistics include the use of FSC-certified sustainable managed wood used throughout 91% of the building’s construction, 83% of waste recycled, 100% use of captured rainwater (for irrigation and bathroom facilities), 30% of recycled materials used and a solar generation of 204,000 Kilowatt hours per year.
This all adds up to a 38% decrease in energy consumption in comparison to the company’s other data centres and make it a whopping 52% more efficient than other comparable buildings.
Facebook’s LEED gold certification will only add fuel to what is steadily becoming an all out ‘Green Race’, with each competitor hoping to create the greenest building; a refreshing and dramatic change from historic trends of biggest, fastest, strongest, most expensive and best. Although best does seem fitting for buildings of this nature.