Serving up greener data centers

This morning, at a press conference in Buffalo, New York, with New York Governor David Paterson and Senator Chuck Schumer, we took another big step forward in addressing climate change. We announced plans to build one of the greenest, most energy-efficient data centers in the world.

This is significant because data centers represent the majority of our energy consumption. Keeping Yahoo! running smoothly for more than 500 million people around the world calls for a lot of server power. So we’ve made it a priority to become a leader in designing and building data centers that are environmentally sustainable, investing millions to design facilities that make the best use of the energy we consume.

Here’s what makes us so proud of our future New York data center plans. First, it will be powered by one of the cleanest utilities in the country – fed predominantly by renewable hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls. And second, a record 90% of that energy will power the servers. To put that in context, the industry average is 50% or lower, with the other half dedicated mostly to keeping the servers cool.

For data center geeks, we expect our Buffalo Lockport, NY, data center design will have an annualized average PUE (power usage effectiveness) of 1.1 or better. To achieve that, we’ve come up with a unique building design that we call the Yahoo! Computing Coop (because it looks like something chickens live in), which is angled to take advantage of Buffalo’s microclimate, using 100% outside air to cool the servers.

We’ve been pushing green data center standards since we started building our own data centers two years ago. For example, our facilities in Washington are powered by zero-carbon wind and hydroelectric sources, and we use free cooling for most of the year, dropping energy consumption by 40-50%. As we build more capacity to meet demand, we’ll continue to focus on innovations and inventions that improve energy efficiency. And we’ve been sharing best practices to encourage the entire industry to put smarter policies in play.

press conference with Chuck Schumer
And we’ll continue to push ourselves hard to lower our impact. Today we’re committing to reduce the carbon intensity of our data centers by at least 40% by 2014. In other words, we’ll decrease our average electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from our data centers around the world. We’ll get there through a combination of innovative data center design, improving how we utilize our servers, cloud computing, and locating our data centers in areas where cleaner energy is available.

Reducing our carbon footprint has always been a priority and we’ve decided to focus all our energy and investment on that philosophy. We will no longer purchase carbon offsets as announced in 2007. Instead, we’ll focus our resources on reducing our carbon impact while helping the rest of the industry do the same. We believe creating highly-efficient data centers will have a greater long-term, direct impact on the environment and gives us the best opportunity to play a leadership role in addressing climate change.

So the next time you check your email, do a Yahoo! search, or get the latest environmental info on Yahoo! Green, you can feel good about putting some of the greenest data centers in the industry to work.

David Filo
Co-founder and Chief Yahoo