Data centers meet 'green building' standards

When it comes to green data centers, two companies have gone far beyond more-efficient servers. Think toilets that use rainwater from the roof and parking spots with plugs for hybrid cars.

Highmark and Fannie Mae are the only two companies with data centers that meet the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council, earning a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. LEED certification doesn't address the use of IT, but as companies build data centers for expanding computer needs, it's a concept worth considering.

At Highmark, building features include recycled construction materials, motion detectors to turn off lights, and rainwater collection for flushing and also as a backup water source for cooling. Lowell Starling, VP of infrastructure management, says Highmark also uses energy-efficient IT, such as virtualization to slow server growth as it processes 12 million daily transactions.

Fannie Mae built the first LEED-certified data center as part of its Maryland campus, which opened in 2005. Along with energy-efficient IT, features include daylight in 75% of spaces and priority parking for hybrid cars, with battery chargers. It's paid off. Brian Cobb, Fannie Mae's senior VP for enterprise systems management, says the campus runs 20% more energy efficiently than it would have without the green emphasis. "That's dollars," Cobb says. "There are good business drivers to be green."

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