Yahoo Announces NY Green Data Center & Drops Carbon Credit Strategy, Why?

Yahoo made their site selection in Buffalo NY, beating out Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 2:39pm EDT

NY beats Ohio, Pa., Ill. for Yahoo! data center site

The Business Review (Albany) - by James Fink For The Business Review

Months of aggressive pitching and a coordinated economic development approach laid the groundwork for computer industry giant Yahoo! Inc. to decide to build a northeast data center in the the Buffalo area.

Yahoo!, Tuesday morning, confirmed it will be building the 190,000-square-foot center at the Lockport Industrial Park. The data center could employ, initially, 125 people. Yahoo! has pegged a 30-acre site in the park for the complex.

Yahoo!’s decision is considered a major victory, especially against a backdrop of a weakened economy where unemployment has increased in the past year in Erie County to 8.1 percent from 5.5 percent, and in Niagara County to 9.3 percent from 6.6 percent.

“This is a big win for the community,” said Tom Kucharski, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise president and chief executive officer. “We won the day.”

Yahoo! was being courted by several states including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois for the center. All offered a handsome array of incentives.

“When a high tech company like Yahoo! picks a community like Western New York, it’s like a lighthouse,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, New York’s senior senator, who played a key role in Lockport landing the data center.

Part of the incentive package is 15 mW of low-cost hydropower.

The region crafted its own aggressive incentive package including the New York Power Authority offering 15 megawatts of low-cost hydropower that could save Yahoo! an estimated $100 million over a 15-year period. Empire State Development Corp. also offered job training grants and other incentives.

The executives and local officials are excited as they say the site will be built in ten months – Aug 2009 start, finish May 2010.

Construction on the data center will begin in August, said David Dibble, Yahoo! senior vice president. The center will be open by May. adds more.

Yahoo redesigns data center, ditches carbon offsets

by Tom Krazit

Yahoo thinks its plan for a new data center could eventually help the company achieve carbon-neutral status without having to resort to the purchase of carbon offsets.

Yahoo's David Dibble discusses the company's plans for a Buffalo-area data center with New York Senator Charles Schumer (right, red tie) and other state officials.

Yahoo designed its forthcoming data center to let outside air cool the servers at all times, borrowing the idea from the design of a chicken coop, according to Yahoo co-founder David Filo. The company joined New York officials such as Governor David Patterson and Senator Charles Schumer Tuesday to unveil plans for the data center, the design of which Yahoo is attempting to patent.

With One Yahoo data center in Eastern Washing with Hydro-electric and another in NY, Yahoo must see themselves as leaders in carbon neutral data center.

As part of the announcement of the new data center in Lockport, N.Y., just outside of Buffalo, Yahoo also revealed that it will no longer purchase carbon offsets as part of its energy strategy. Carbon offsets have been controversial in some quarters, but they allow companies to claim they are "carbon neutral," in that purchasing offsets diverts money to green projects.

The original Yahoo Blog gives more details about PUE and energy efficiency.

For data center geeks, we expect our Buffalo data center design will have an annualized average PUE (power usage effectiveness) of 1.1 or better. To achieve that, we’ve come up with a unique building design that we call the Yahoo! Computing Coop (because it looks like something chickens live in), which is angled to take advantage of Buffalo’s microclimate, using 100% outside air to cool the servers.

We’ve been pushing green data center standards since we started building our own data centers two years ago. For example, our facilities in Washington are powered by zero-carbon wind and hydroelectric sources, and we use free cooling for most of the year, dropping energy consumption by 40-50%. As we build more capacity to meet demand, we’ll continue to focus on innovations and inventions that improve energy efficiency. And we’ve been sharing best practices to encourage the entire industry to put smarter policies in play.

For years Yahoo has been promoting its carbon neutrality by buying carbon offsets, but now have shifted to carbon reduction vs offsets.  Yahoo will be able to claim a big reduction in carbon when they shut down their existing data center capacity and shift it to NY.  Keep this in mind when you think about your carbon strategy.  The public is wising up to carbon offsets are not as good as carbon reduction.