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Meta thinks it has a great new way to save water in its data centers

The tech giant is experimenting with using lower temperatures to limit water consumption

Meta plans to slash the amount of water its data centers are using by implementing a system where sites will operate at higher temperatures but lower humidity.

Facebook's parent company said it has been trialing running some sites at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, around 5 degrees above their usual temperatures, as part of wider plans to become "water positive" by 2030.

Meta also told audiences at the recent 7×24 Exchange Fall Conference in San Antonio, Texas, that it also plans to lower the frequency of the backwashing used to clean filtration systems, in addition to tweaking the water softening systems being utilized at many of its data centers.

How will this work?

Meta's pilot programs involved adjusting the temperature environment in just one half of a data center while maintaining the other side at the existing level for comparison.

Meta didn’t clearly specify exactly how much water it intends to save annually from the measures, saying only “millions of gallons”, according to reports

On a per-site basis, Meta estimated the savings will range from 10% to 65% depending on the area.

Why the move?

Data centers are a huge drain on the world’s finite water supply, as according to a report by the US Department of Energy, these used a combined 174 billion gallons of water in 2020 in just the US alone.

Meta is quite the water consumer itself, the big tech firm used 2.57 million cubic meters of water over the course of 2021 mainly as a result of its cloud hosting which is responsible for huge swathes of consumer data, according to statistics from GlobalData.(opens in new tab)

Even a small decrease in water output per data center could cause huge positive ripples globally, Meta currently operates around 40 million square feet of data centers globally as per its website.

Meta isn’t the only big tech firm that is looking to make its data centers more sustainable.

Microsoft says it has created zero-carbon emissions alternatives for the diesel-powered generators used for backups in its data centers, in the event of power outages and other service disruptions.

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