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    Global Data Center Green Building Program

    Since 2010, Brightworks has developed and implemented the green building strategy for Facebook’s global data center program, comprising millions of square feet of new LEED Gold certified data center space.

    Facebook has enjoyed rapidly increasing usage as global citizens shared status updates, photographs, and “likes” with friends, family members, and followers.

    To power this online activity, the social media company had been renting data centers from co-location landlords. However, Facebook realized it would be difficult to cost-effectively add processing capability to keep up with global growth in social networking if it continued to rent its data center space.

    Hacking the data center

    In 2010, Facebook decided to build and operate its own data centers. True to its hacker roots, Facebook staff had innovative ideas for energy efficiency that they wanted to explore. Facebook committed to additional green building measures in its data centers, as well, for which Brightworks Sustainability has provided program management services.

    Today, Facebook and Brightworks have brought into being some of the most sustainable data centers in the world, with more on the way.

    LEED Gold as a baseline

    All of these data centers proudly boast LEED Gold certification and use 40% less energy than conventional data centers. These energy efficiencies in turn reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 36,000 tons per year, the equivalent of over 4,800 average US households.

    In Facebook’s own words, “We started a project at Facebook a little over a year ago with a pretty big goal: to build one of the most efficient computing infrastructures at the lowest possible cost. We decided to honor our hacker roots and challenge convention by custom designing and building our software, servers and data centers from the ground up. The result is a data center which is 38% more efficient and 24% less expensive to build and run than other state-of-the-art data centers” (

    Major sustainable design measures

    Major energy efficiency and sustainable design measures implemented in Facebook’s data centers include:

    • 100% outside air evaporative cooling that requires no energy-hogging cooling towers or chillers.
    • Custom servers that use less energy and can operate at higher temperatures to reduce mechanical cooling needs.
    • Novel electrical distribution from an on-site sub-station to the building that eliminates unnecessary losses from transformations and conversions.
    • Novel ductless ventilation system using 100% outside air, evaporative cooling using micro-droplets, and a custom server hall design separating hot aisles from cold aisles.
    • Rainwater capture and reuse for 100% of irrigation and toilet flushing needs.
    • Native and minimalist landscaping intended to preserve and mimic the local ecology.
    • Material use of recycled, regional, and FSC-certified wood
    • 76% less water needed for occupant uses within the building, saving 63,000 gallons of municipally treated water per year.
    • 100% on-site stormwater management, obviating burdens the local municipal storm water system.
    • Rainwater capture for 100% of site irrigation, saving 272,000 gallons of municipally treated water per year.
    • 30% of the materials sourced and manufactured within 500 miles of the building.
    • 91% of wood used in the data center from sustainably-managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
    • 83% of waste generated in the construction process recycled or re-used, keeping 530 tons of material from ending up in landfills.
    • 27% of materials used to construct the data center contain recycled material.

    An overview of the Facebook Global Data Center Program’s scope follows:

    Prineville (Oregon) Phase 1

    • Green Project of the Year, Engineering News Record (2012)
    • LEED Gold certified
    • Rainwater capture & re-use

    Prineville (Oregon) Phase 2

    • LEED Gold certified

    Prineville (Oregon) Phase 3

    • Achieved LEED Gold

    Prineville (Oregon) Phase 4

    • Targeting LEED Gold

    Forest City (North Carolina) Phase 1

    • LEED Gold certified
    • Rainwater capture & re-use

    Forest City (North Carolina) Phase 2

    • LEED Gold certified

    Forest City (North Carolina) Phase 3

    • LEED Gold certified

    Forest City (North Carolina) Phase 4

    • Targeting LEED Gold certification

    Lulea (Sweden) Phase 1

    • Facebook‘s first international data center
    • LEED Gold certified

    Lulea (Sweden) Phase 2

    • Facebook’s first modular data center
    • Targeting at least LEED Gold

    Altoona (Iowa) Phase 1

    • LEED Gold certified
    • Healthy and sustainable materials pilot program

    Altoona (Iowa) Phase 2

    • Targeting LEED Gold
    • Healthy and sustainable materials program

    Altoona (Iowa) Phase 3

    • Targeting LEED Gold

    Europe Data Center 2 Phase 1 (Location Confidential)

    • Targeting LEED Gold
    • Rainwater capture & re-use feasibility study

    North America Data Center 4 (Fort Worth, Texas)

    • Targeting LEED Gold
    • LEED v4 feasibility study

    Corporate Headquarters

    In addition to Facebook’s data center program, Brightworks Sustainability managed the LEED program for Facebook’s new headquarters in Menlo Park, CA, featured on the cover of the August 2015 Architectural Record. The headquarters features an innovative healthy and sustainable materials program, also designed and implemented by Brightworks.


    “Facebook Exposes Itself in Oregon” (Bloomberg)

    “Facebook: The New King of Data Brokers?” (Wired)

    “Greening the ‘Cloud” at Facebook’s Newest Data Center” (GreenSource)

    “Facebook Building 20” (Architectural Record, Cover)

    2012 Best Green Project (Engineering News Record)

    At a Glance

    • Various, Multiple States, Multiple Countries
    • LEED Gold