Yahoo! Dropping Carbon Offsets for Greener Data Centers
Yahoo’s co-founder David Filo, together with New York Governor David Paterson and Senator Chuck Schumer, announced plans to build the greenest and most energy-efficient data centers in the world.
Filo said in his blog that keeping Yahoo! running smoothly for more than 500 million people around the world calls for a lot of server power. As a result, the company wants to become a leader in designing and building data centers that are environmentally sustainable.
To reduce its carbon footprint, Yahoo is also changing its strategy. Instead of purchasing carbon offsets that it announced in 2007, it will focus its resources on reducing its carbon impact while helping the industry to do the same. Filo noted the company would be “investing millions to design facilities that make the best use of the energy we consume.”
According to the blog, the New York data center will primarily be powered by renewable hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls, with a “record 90 percent” of that energy to power servers. Currently the industry average is 50 percent lower, said Filo, with the other half dedicated to keeping servers cool.
Filo expects the NY data center design will have an annualized average power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.1 or better thanks to a unique building design, called Yahoo! Computing Coop, which uses 100 percent outside air to cool the servers.
Developed by the Green Grid, the PUE is calculated by dividing the total utility load by the total IT equipment load. In this method, the lower the PUE the better.
This is not Yahoo’s first green data center. The company’s facilities in Washington are powered by zero-carbon wind and hydroelectric sources, and use free cooling for most of the year, which drops energy consumption by 40-50 percent.
The company is committed to reducing its carbon intensity of its data centers by at least 40 percent by 2014, which means the company has to decrease its average electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from its data centers around the world.
Filo expects to achieve this goal through various ways — new data center designs, better server utilization, cloud computing and using cleaner energy.
Data centers are vital to huge Internet businesses such as Yahoo, and companies throughout this industry are paying more attention to the amount of energy consumed by facilities, reports CNET. Google has talked about its own push for greater efficiency in its data centers and Microsoft recently announced plans for two new data centers focused on energy efficiency, reports the tech paper.
In June, Microsoft also announced plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent compared to 2007 levels in the next three years by improving energy use in its buildings and operations, reducing air travel, and increasing the use of renewable energy.
Other organizations are also pushing for greener data centers. Perhaps Yahoo’s top competitor for the “greenest” status is the partnership of EMC, Cisco, MIT and the University of Massachusetts, which plans to invest $100 million for a new data center in Holyoke, Massachusetts, which has hydroelectric power.
Syracuse University recently announced that its data center will be among the world’s most efficient, using half as much energy as a typical data center.
Earlier in the year, GE completed an energy efficiency renovation of its Cincinnati, Ohio data center, including a cooling system retrofit that will cut its water use by one-fifth and save 24 million kilowatt-hours of power each year, delivering an 11 percent improvement.
In January, Sun Microsystems unveiled its new energy-efficient data center in Broomfield, Colorado, packed with power and cooling technologies that will help the company save over $1 million in electricity costs and about 11,000 tons in CO2 emissions every year.
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