It has been a decade since the social media phenomenon known as Facebook first opened its doors. In that time Facebook has succumbed to public pressure from Greenpeace’s Unfriend Coal campaign and has been moving quickly in a more environmentally sustainable direction.
In addition to greener facilities Facebook hosts a vast assortment of Groups and Facebook pages related to green business, social entrepreneurs, and nonprofit activism.
One of the highlights of Facebook’s efforts is its new one million square foot Menlo Park Campuses in California that include 10 office buildings. The new campus features a green roof which takes the form of a tree-filled park. Facebook is also seeking LEED (Gold) certification for the new establishments.
In the Spring of 2013, Facebook joined the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge which will assess, design, implement and install infrastructure in support of workforce plug-in electric vehicle charging stations.
Two of Facebook’s data centers use outside air to keep servers cool and minimize energy needed for cooling. These smart-design features are being partnered with low tech solutions such as employee practices in Menlo Park. These employees are installing recycling and composting bins as well as a host of little things like reusing existing fixtures rather than buying new ones. Half of these employees are taking part in a green transportation program that relies on bikes, car pools and free shuttles.
Not all the news from Facebook is good news. In 2013 the company joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a powerful organization that has helped the fossil fuel industry to control state legislatures.
Facebook’s worst problem concerns its burgeoning energy use. As documented in the company’s annual carbon emissions and energy use report, the company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased 35 percent in 2012 compared with 2011. In 2012 the carbon intensity per user was about 18 percent higher compared to 2011.
To deal with the growing energy demand from its one billion users, Facebook has ambitious plans to reduce its GHGs and source much of its power from renewable energy. Facebook is building two data centers one in Iowa and one in Sweden that use only renewable power. Facebook is also decreasing emissions from office space, employee commuting and air travel, data center construction, and hardware transportation.
Facebook also teamed up with Apple and Google to force Duke Energy, their electric utility in North Carolina to offer a renewable energy program.
In a forward looking move that saves energy, Facebook is reportedly using Blu-Ray in their newly built data center in Oregon and it may incorporate the feature into other data centers. The technology provides cold storage and is capable of storing 1 petabyte of data in a single cabinet. Blu-Ray disks offers savings of up to 50 percent compared with the hard disks and uses 80 percent less energy than cold storage racks.