5 Green Data Centers that Serve the Environment

green_data_centers_environment.jpgAs business as we know it becomes more and more reliant upon complex computer systems, the subsequent data centers are growing just as fast as the businesses they support. Busy sprawling server farms get really hot and heavy, heating up as the data centers’ work overtime. The world needs server farms to process our increasing digital data, but these facilities consume massive amounts of energy to keep the processors from overheating, as well as release excessive heat into the environment, contributing to global warming. Some extraordinary companies are tapping into the benefits of their locations to naturally cool their systems with Arctic air or sea water, while others welcome the excess heat, and harness it to heat local homes. Read on for 5 smart companies who are using their server farms and the environment to work together.

The mountains in Stavanger, Norway are home to cool glacial-fed fjords and icy temperatures. But deep inside one peak, the Green Mountain Data Center is busy processing digital data. About 21,000 square meters underground hosts the facility’s warehouses, administration, and 9 data server halls, which pump out a lot of heat. One of the greenest data centers in the world, Green Mountain is powered by renewable energy, and naturally cooled by water from the neighboring fjord. The center is kept further cool by its location deep underground, which uses its natural low temperature, and surrounding rock as moderators. Green Mountain is not only energy efficient, but produces a zero carbon footprint.

helsinki-server1.gifBuilt in 1868, the beautiful Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki is the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe. Beneath the cathedral, the natural bedrock gives way to a cave, which is home to Helsinki Energy and Academica’s server farm. The cave is networked to a system of underground pipes, which captures the excess heat produced by the server farm, and pumps it into the city. Around 500 homes are fully heated, fed only by Uspenski’s underground server farm!


Apple’s North Carolina Data Center runs the processor information for the new iCloud- and also consumes massive amounts of energy, which until recently was produced by dirty coal. But late last fall they were given clearance to build a massive solar farm on the 171 acres of land near the data center. The new plan turned a once dirty operation into an eco-friendly, renewable energy center that powers some of the hottest consumer technology.

Lori Zimmer / Inhabitat
Lori Zimmer
Lori Zimmer is a freelance writer, curator and art consultant. She's an expert in art and technology and recently launched ArtNerdNewYork.com.  Part travel guide, part history lesson Lori uses this digital platform to feature art sites in New York City that go beyond the obvious and ordinary. Inhabitat is an online magazine devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and design towards a smarter and more sustainable future.
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  • http://profile.typepad.com/dpastaface Dpastaface

    interesting article. most people don’t realize the environmental costs of even simply just using the internet.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/abene Nicole Abene

    It’s so amazing that some companies actually use these data centers to HELP the environment!