Feng Shui and the Art of Data Centers, News.com

News.com's Michael Kannellos chooses an interesting term for data centers design to flow with the environment, Feng Shui and the Art of the Data Centers.

Large multinational companies are building data centers designed to flow with their environment. There's something you probably didn't expect to hear five years ago.

Microsoft, for instance, is building a data center in Ireland in which the server rooms and other facilities will be cooled with devices called air side economizers, which pipe outside air inside.

"It uses fresh air aggressively to keep your building cool," said Rob Bernard, Microsoft's chief environmental strategist, in a phone interview. "The ideal scenario is that if Ireland continues to develop wind power and hopefully wave power, you have the best of both worlds: you're minimizing kilowatt consumption, and the kilowatts you use are sustainable."

The company, he pointed out, also has a data center in Quincy, Wash., powered by hydroelectric dams. (We've got an earlier post with Bernard about Microsoft's plans to move into building automation and other green industries.)

Similarly, Google analyzes the availability of renewable power when it builds data centers. Centers built in Oregon and North Carolina are located near hydroelectric power. Google also has 1.6 megawatts' worth of solar power at its headquarters. Applied Materials, the Air Force, and Sharp own even larger solar arrays.