Google Data Center Water Economization Strategy

The National Security Agency has recently focused on new efforts for data center sustainability, reaching an agreement with Howard County, Md., officials to cool its structure with treated wastewater.

According to The Washington Post contributor Matthew Hay Brown, Howard County will supply treated gray water to the data center. The NSA will spend an estimated $40 million to construct a pump station near the facility, and will also pay the county nearly $2 million for treated water that would otherwise be dumped in the local river.

Once completed, the pump station will have the capacity to supply as much as 5 million gallons of gray water per day to the data center, which is scheduled to open in 2016. The source stated that both county officials and the NSA hope the data center sustainability project will serve as a model for other environmental initiatives in the industry.

According to Forbes, Google also utilizes recycled water at its Georgia data center in Douglas County. The search engine giant switched from using tap water to recycled wastewater to cool IT equipment in 2012.

Jim Brown, data center facilities manager for Google, told Forbes that the company realized it didn’t need clean water supplies for cooling purposes.

“[W]e talked to the Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority … about setting up a system that uses reuse water – also known as gray or recycled water – in our cooling infrastructure,” Brown said. “With this system in place, we’re able to use recycled water for 100 percent of our cooling needs.”

Whereas the NSA plans to construct a pump station, Google instead built a “side stream facility” a few miles from its data center that diverts and treats about 30 percent of the wastewater. This resource is then sent to the computing structure and utilized in an evaporative cooling data center design.

Leave a Comment