[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VChOEvKicQQ?rel=0]

Did you know a Google datacenter uses half the energy of a typical industry data center?  The search company has gone to great lengths exploring green energy and it’s not just electric cars for employees. Unlike Google’s, about 70 percent of the world’s data centers are lacking the resources and expertise to go green, explains senior vice president of technical infrastructure Urs Hoelzle. Google’s Hamina, Finland facility depicted in the above clip is an example of such environment-friendliness.

Originally a paper-mill built in the 1950s, it takes raw sea water directly from the Gulf of Finland, pumps it through the existing seawater tunnel and runs it through heat exchangers to dissipate the server load heat from the facility. It than routes the warm water to another building where it’s mixed with the fresh sea water so it could be returned to the Gulf at a similar temperature in order to minimize an impact on environment. Investing in such innovations makes sense from the financial standpoint, too…

Yesterday at the annual shareholder meeting Google’s chief of finance fielded a question about going the extra mile with datacenter design. He said, “All investments in green energy have a high hurtle rate. They do very well from a returns perspective. We have a capital and tax structure to get a lot of benefits out of them”. So yeah, it does take the scale of Google to invest big money in green designs, but the financial benefits are there. That said, we wonder how green Apple’s $1 billion North Carolina datacenter facility really is (you can check out recent aerial shots in Google Maps here).

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