Yahoo redesigns data center, ditches carbon offsets

A new data center in Lockport, N.Y., is part of a strategy that Yahoo believes will allow it to end carbon offset purchases to reach carbon-neutral status.

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

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.

Data centers are vital to huge Internet businesses such as Yahoo, and companies throughout this industry have started paying more and more attention to the amount of energy consumed by facilities that can have thousands of servers running all day, every day. Google has talked up its own push for greater efficiency in its data centers, and Microsoft just announced plans for two new data centers geared around energy efficiency.

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.

Yahoo plans to focus its green strategy on projects such as the Buffalo data center rather than the purchase of offsets, which means it will take them some time to return to the carbon-neutral goal set in 2007. "We believe creating highly-efficient data centers will have a greater long-term, direct impact on the environment and gives us the best opportunity to play a leadership role in addressing climate change," Filo wrote.

Corrected at 3:05 p.m.:Yahoo clarified the new data center will be in Lockport, N.Y., just outside of Buffalo.

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