Yahoo! Announces State-of-the-Art Green Data Center

Sarah Morse - Contributing Writer
Posted on Wednesday 1st July 2009

In a world where being green is becoming the cool thing to do, even search engines are trying to find a way to join the cause. Yesterday, Yahoo! announced its intentions to build one of the greenest data centers in the world in Lockport, N.Y.

The data center will take advantage of its close proximity to Niagra Falls for hydro-electric power, using a record 90 percent of that power for the servers. The design of the facility, which Yahoo!’s chief Dave Filo says looks like a chicken coop, will use the area’s microclimate to implement a cooling system which uses 100 percent outside air. Chillers are typically the most energy-hungry part of data centers, so this move frees up energy directly for the servers.

Reducing Carbon Footprint

The plan for this data center is part of a wider Yahoo! effort to green their business. In a blog posted by Filo along with the announcement yesterday, he writes, “Reducing our carbon footprint has always been a priority and we’ve decided to focus all our energy and investment on that philosophy.” This means that the company will no longer buy carbon offsets as announced in 2007, and, instead, work directly on reducing their energy consumption and increasing efficiency. They hope to reduce their carbon footprint by 40 percent in 2014.

In building the facility, Yahoo! will achieve a power effectiveness usage (PUE), which essentially measures efficiency, of 1.1 or better, beating out Google’s most energy efficient data center, which runs at 1.12.

In April, Google held a “Data Center Efficiency Summit” where the company shared information on the efficiency of its data center operations. “We’re proud of our results” said Urs Holzle, Google’s director of operations, “but the point isn’t where we are, but where everyone can be.” He then added, “We all need to improve our data centers. There’s really a lot of low-hanging fruit.”

Yahoo! agrees that a cooperative approach is key to achieving climate change.

“We’ve been sharing best practices to encourage the entire industry to put smarter policies in play,” Filo writes.

That cooperation does little to hinder competition between the two major search engines.

With both companies striving for the greenest and most efficient data centers, it seems in this case that a little friendly competition hurts no one.

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