Social networking giant Facebook announced it is building its first custom data center, a $180 million facility in Oregon that will help the company keep pace with its 350 million – and growing – users worldwide.

In a blog post on the company’s site, Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations for Facebook, noted that while the company is a major leaser of data center space, the new facility in Prineville, Ore., is the first the company is building from the ground up.

“Initially, as most Internet startups do, we leased data center space alongside other companies in the same building,” he said in the blog. “As our user base continued to grow and we developed Facebook into a much richer service, we reached the point where it was more efficient to lease entire buildings on our own.

“Now we are ready to build our own,” he said.

Facebook officially broke ground on the facility January 21, and construction is expected to take about 12 months. When completed, the data center will employ about 35 full-time workers and a number of part-timers, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. 

In his blog, Heiliger outlined a number of energy efficiency features that are being incorporated into the building. They include:

  • Evaporative cooling system. The system evaporates water to cool incoming air, as opposed to traditional chiller systems that require more energy intensive equipment.
  • Airside economizer. The facility will be cooled by bringing in colder air from the outside. This method will operate for between 60% and 70% of the year, relying on the cooler temperatures in Oregon. The facility will use the evaporative cooling system the remainder of the year.
  • Re-use of server heat. A portion of the heat created by computer servers will be captured and used to heat officer space in the colder months.
  • Proprietary uninterruptible power supply (UPS) technology. The Prineville data center will use a new, patent-pending UPS system that reduces electricity usage by as much as 12%.

Heiliger said when operational, the data center will help Facebook improve the user experience worldwide. “This is just one step along the way in building a business for the long term and dedicating resources to scale our site to support our users, developers and advertisers,” he wrote.



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