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Optoelectronics & Communications

Tech industry seeks to build a greener data center

Reducing energy costs in huge data centers has made building a greener data center the environmental grail of the tech industry.

Filled with tens of thousands of servers, data centers are the information mills that churn out the goods and services of the digital world, processing online bank transactions, delivering e-mail, uploading photos, streaming video to Internet users around the world.

These centers, which can cost upward of $100 million to build, also suck up massive amounts of energy.

Electricity powers the servers in giant facilities that have to be precisely cooled to keep the machines from melting under their own heat. Estimates project the technology industry will consume 3 percent of all electricity in the United States by 2011. While that may seem a small amount, the growth of online computing has concerned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Seattle Times story