Facebook's impact on Prineville

Data center creates construction jobs, models energy efficiency, official says

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin / @EGlucklich

Published Feb 21, 2013 at 04:00AM

PRINEVILLE — The manager of Facebook's data center outlined the progress of construction and its economic impact at an hourlong discussion Wednesday morning, attended by about 50 community members:

• More than 1,200 Central Oregon construction workers have helped build Facebook's two Prineville data centers.

• The social media giant's completed data center on the bluffs just west of town uses 52 percent less energy than most comparable facilities.

• And the company's second Prineville data center, under construction since last year, is on track to be complete by July.

Data Center Manager Joshua Crass said Prineville is home to “the world's most energy-efficient data center.”

Facebook officials have said Prineville's cool, dry air made building in the High Desert attractive, letting the company save on the cost of chilling computer servers to minimize overheating. It has also attracted Apple, which is building a data center nearby.

Facebook's completed data center, referred to as Building 1, “uses 70 percent less water than a chilled data center,” Crass said.

Announced in early 2010, Building 1 was Facebook's first company-owned data center. It is 300,000 square feet — about the height of an 81-story building if it were re-positioned vertically, Crass said.

Facebook has since built data centers in North Carolina and is working on another in Sweden modeled after the Prineville facility.

Building 2 is progressing, Crass said. The two buildings are designed to be mirror images of each other, both containing four halls stuffed with an undisclosed number of computer servers that store the information and photos of millions of Facebook users around the world.

One of the four halls in Building 2 is complete, Crass said. The remaining three should be finished this summer.

One of the largest projects in Crook County history, the data centers have been a major boon to the construction industry. Of the 2,500 workers contracted to build the centers, about half have come from Central Oregon, Crass said.

The centers also employ about 70 full-time workers, made up of employees who monitor the servers, track power usage in the facility, and handle shipping and receiving, janitorial and security duties.

In addition to the two primary data centers, Facebook is also working to build a smaller, 62,000-square-foot “cold-storage facility,” to store data accessed less frequently by Facebook users, such as old photos that haven't been looked at in a while.

Facebook also has space on its Prineville property to build a third large data facility, “as business needs dictate,” Crass said, though there are no plans to do so anytime soon.

“We have some room to grow,” he said. “But we don't know what that will look like in the future.”