Facebook’s Green-Roofed ‘Hobbit Hole’ Gets Green Light
The Menlo Park City Council voted last week to allow the social network giant to move ahead with its plans for the 433,555-square-foot building. The new campus will connect with Facebook’s current headquarters via an underground tunnel, according to media reports, and feature an oak tree-filled park on its roof.
Gehry’s creative partner, Craig Webb, told the city council that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked that the design be “low key,” and “not too flashy,” the San Jose Mercury News reports. Because of this, earlier design ideas — such as one in which the building’s ends resembled butterfly wings — were dropped. The current plans show the building rising like a hillside to 73 feet in some spots, with most of it only reaching 45 feet high, the newspaper says. High-tech blog BetaBeat described the new facility as a “hobbit hole.”
Green roofs and green walls will grow from a $5.3 billion market in 2011 into a $7.7 billion market in 2017, driven by mandates and incentives in cities worldwide, according to a Lux Research report published last October.
Rapid urbanization over the past 50 years has caused air pollution, urban heat-island effects and loss of green spaces. To combat these and other environmental issues, cities such as Copenhagen, London, Singapore and Chicago have issued mandates or incentives for vegetated roofs to reduce storm-water volume, clean air pollutants, reduce the heat-island effect and sequester carbon dioxide.
Facebook’s new green roof is one of many sustainability initiative the social network company has undertaken. Earlier this month, Facebook along with 15 other companies joined the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge, which commits the company to assess workforce plug-in electric vehicle charging demands and develop and implement a plan to install workplace charging infrastructure for at least one major worksite location.
Two of Facebook’s data centers use outside air to keep servers cool, Energy Manager Today reports. This free cooling cuts power use and costs needed to operate the facilities.
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