Greenpeace International today launched an awareness campaign on Facebook targeting Facebook after the company announced that it will build a massive data center in Prineville, Oregon, that will run on coal, the United States’ biggest source of greenhouse gases. (1)
Data centers are huge consumers of electricity, and with the shift to "cloud computing" platforms like Facebook just beginning to change how the internet works, energy demand will continue to grow. (2) Companies that run their data center on power from burning coal are supporting the biggest source of man-made CO2 emissions in the world.
"The only truly green data center are the types running on renewable energy," said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International Cool IT campaign coordinator. "Yahoo, for instance, built a date center near Buffalo, New York, that is powered by hydroelectric power, decreasing the data center's carbon footprint.(3) "Facebook and all IT companies must use their power and influence to site ther data centers where renewable power is available and continue to push for policies that will bring more renewable energy to America's electricity grid." (4)
Facebook confronts the same choices and challenges that other large "cloud computing" companies have in building their data center. While other companies have chosen Oregon as a good choice given the abundant hydropower, it is expected to become more expensive by the time Facebook's data center is online. Facebook has chosen instead to go with PacifiCorp, a power company that gets the majority of its power from coal-fired power stations.
Facebook has responded to criticism over its decision by pointing to its highly energy efficient design standards and equipment specification. But Harrell says that given the massive amounts of electricity even energy efficient data centers consume to run computers, backup power, and related cooling equipment, "the last thing we need for them to be doing is building them in places where they are increasing demand for dirty coal fired power. If your Facebook page is being powered by coal, then it's contributing to climate change."
Added Harrell: "We are calling on Facebook members to urge the company to kick coal off their computers by taking action at http://www.greenpeace.org/coalfacebook.
Greenpeace is pressuring information technology and communication companies through its Cool IT campaign to play an important role in the fight to save our climate by using their influence to change government policies to dramatically increase the supply of renewable electricity being put in grid and to create solutions for economy-wide greenhouse gas emission reductions.(5)
VVPR info: Contacts: Daniel Kessler, 510.501.1779; ; Casey Harrell, 1-415-307-3382,
Notes: Notes to the Editor: 1. http://www.greenpeace.org/coalfacebook 2. www.smart2020.org 3. http://www.buffalonews.com/145/story/762383.html 4. Greenpeace is calling on Facebook to change its power purchase agreement with PacifiCorp and pushing for strong clean energy and climate policies to ensure that as it grows the supply of renewable energy also increases. 5. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/climate-change/cool-it-challenge