Sunday, May 16, 2021

Facebook Data Center Planned for Iowa: Report

Facebook it planning another major data center project, this time in Iowa.

According to the Des Moines Register, the social media giant is spending $1 billion to erect the facility, code-named Catapult, on a 200-acre site near Altoona. Experts, however, place the total closer to $1.5 billion.

Iowa reportedly beat Nebraska in a “fiercely” competitive battle to play host to the project, which will rise from the plot of land over the course of two $500 million phases.

Area lawmakers told the news organizations that when built, it will be “the most technologically advanced data center in the world.” Whether or not the Iowa data center takes that crown, there’s a solid chance that it will be an environmentally-friendly facility.

“Tied to the project is a separate request by Facebook for Iowa tax credits for wind energy production, legislators said on condition of anonymity,” wrote Donnelle Eller in her report for the Register.

Of late, Facebook has joined other IT industry giants in promoting green computing centers.

In the days leading up to Earth Day — Monday, April 22 — Facebook unveiled a set of interactive dashboards that allow the public to dive into energy and water consumption metrics at two of its data centers. The dashboards serve up Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) data at Facebook’s facilities located at Prineville, Ore. and Forest City, N.C.

PUE and WUE can be used to gauge a data center’s environmental impact. For example, as of this writing, the Prineville data center reported a trailing twelve-month (TTM) PUE of 1.09 (the closer to a 1:1 ratio, the better).

A dash for the Lulea, Sweden data center will launch when it is operational.

The dashboards are just one example of Facebook’s progress on issues surrounding big cloud computing centers and their impact on the environment. A year ago, while blasting Apple, Microsoft and Amazon for operating IT sites in areas served by coal power plants, Greenpeace hailed Facebook’s efforts for embracing renewables.

Now, Facebook is embracing openness.

“Well, we’re proud of our data center efficiency, and we think it’s important to demystify data centers and share more about what our operations really look like. Through the Open Compute Project (OCP), we’ve shared the building and hardware designs for our data centers,” wrote Facebook sustainability team program manager Lyrica McTiernan in a blog post.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation and, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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