The Manos Tree at Microsoft's San Antonio Data Center

San Antonio Express has an article about Microsoft's Data Center in San Antonio, Model of Efficiency, and tells the story of the Manos Tree.

A lone oak in front of Microsoft's massive new data center in Westover Hills symbolizes the technology company's efforts at green business practices.

It's called the "Manos" tree, named for Mike Manos, Microsoft's senior director of data center services. He ordered Turner Construction, the facility's builders, to save it.

"Microsoft made a commitment to save and preserve the old-growth live oak trees," Manos said. "For the most part, in the area where we constructed the data center, there wasn't any old-growth oaks except for one — dead center in the middle of the construction project."

So Turner's workers built the building around the tree, which covers about as much ground as a sandbox, even putting up concrete barriers at times to save it. They also successfully saved dozens of old oak trees on the perimeter of the 44-acre site. Those trees will help shade the 470,000-square-foot building and reduce cooling costs.


Other Green features mentioned in the article are:

Microsoft's mammoth building looks like a mirror image of its first built-to-suit data center in Quincy, Wash., but it has a lot of incremental improvements over that facility simply because Microsoft has learned through the process how to design the center more efficiently, Manos said. Those improvements include the ways the servers are laid out in the rooms, the lighting in the building and other materials used for construction.

In addition to the conservation of trees, Microsoft has other green initiatives under way, such as plans to use an estimated 6 million to 8 million gallons a month of gray water or recycled water from the San Antonio Water System.

. To create a green data center, Microsoft must run its business efficiently, Manos said.

"When you think about the data center, the big white elephant in the room is the use of power in the data center itself," Manos said. Microsoft says its San Antonio center is the most energy-efficient data center yet. It plans to improve on energy efficiency through the use of high-efficiency servers and power systems. The company also has worked to maximize the efficiency of its cooling systems.

"Every drop of electricity is being utilized in the most significant way," Manos said.

And other data centers are following Microsoft to San Antonio. As Microsoft adds Green data center features like gray water/recycled water cooling systems, others are asked to follow.

Other San Antonio companies with major data centers also have focused on green business practices.

CityNap bills itself as a 100 percent green data center because it buys all of its electricity from CPS Energy's Windtricity program. Rackspace, a Web-hosting company, is moving into new headquarters at the Windsor Park Mall and has undertaken a number of green initiatives as part of that relocation.

Since Microsoft announced its project in January 2007, four other data center projects have announced projects, and Hernandez expects more announcements shortly. He is working with eight more data center prospects.

San Antonio's inexpensive power, excellent telecommunications infrastructure, recycled water program and a stable environment appeals to Microsoft and other technology companies, said Mario Hernandez, president of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.

"When you're touted as one of the premier sites for data centers, it sends a message to other companies," Hernandez said. He just got back from meeting with high-tech companies in Los Angeles and San Francisco that wanted to know more about San Antonio's data center industry.

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