The Switzerland of Data Centers: Carbon Neutrality in the Data Age

30 May 2014 by Technology

"One of most popular Facebook post's is our ""Word of the Day"". Currently, we are on a Carbon Footprint theme, specifically, today's word ""Carbon Neutral"" got us to thinking'¦ are there any major Carbon Neutral Data Centers? And as far as we can see, yes, there is one built by Facebook in Iowa (current reports on Facebook's Lulea' ""Node Pole"" data center say that this data center will also be carbon neutral.)

First a little bit about what Carbon Neutrality : the term refers to the balancing of the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by a particular activity, like flying, driving or operating a data center, with an equal amount of carbon sequestration or carbon offsets from a third party. To be considered carbon neutral, an individual or organization must reduce its carbon footprint to zero. Ideally, most activities would be Carbon Negative - these are Carbon Neutral activities plus a variety of activities to ""reverse"" the original Carbon Footprint - some as simple as planting trees in areas where forests have to be cleared for new building.

Artist's Rendering of Facebook's Iowa Wind Farm
So, back to Facebook's reported Carbon Neutral data center: the data center located in Altoona, Iowa is slated to start service in early 2015, and be more of a help than a hindrance to the environment. According to Facebook , the utility company, MidAmerican Energy, will build, own and operate the wind farm that will power 100% of the datacenter.

Thus, making Facebook, one of the more environmentally-conscious data center builders in the world, as its Swedish data center is also reported as Carbon Neutral.

There's got to be a catch: Facebook is not just in it for the environment - there's another sort of ""green"" that Facebook is interested in: Facebook gets to claim 100% renewable energy for its data center through Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), which it appears to be planning to buy from the utility. The Wellsburg, Iowa, wind farm's capacity will be 138MW - well more than the data center will ever need.

Therefore, the most ""green"" Carbon Neutral data center will be making green in the form of tax credits, and who could blame them? As far as world-wide data use Facebook is a bit of a tyrant when it comes to needing power, and since we use Facebook as much as we do, the greener the energy, the better.

Saving the Planet at the Push of the Button
Check back on our Facebook page for tomorrow's word of the data: Carbon Negative - activities that actually put power back in to the grid, and for all things datacenter related, check out or call one of our experts at: (877) 406-2248."

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