The cavern beneath Helsinki's beautiful Uspenski Cathedral will soon shelter a brand new server farm for local technology company Academica and along with it, a new source of heating for homes in the area. The waste heat from the IT center will be captured and channeled into Helsinki's district heating system.
It is estimated that the IT sector accounts for as much as 3% of total global energy consumption and that number is expected to rise to 5% in the next decade. And though servers and new technologies like cloud computing are helping to reduce the energy impact of the Internet, they nevertheless generate a huge amount of heat, requiring and equally huge amount of AC to keep them at peak operating conditions.
The Helsinki project will eliminate the need for cooling, which can account for 50% (or more) of a server farm's total energy consumption. That alone would qualify it as super energy efficient, but the fact that the waste heat is providing essentially free “renewable” energy allows Helsingin Energia to name this the greenest IT center in the world.
The data center will provide all the heating needs for approximately 500 home and an added bonus – security that money can’t buy. The racks of servers will be housed inside a World War II bomb shelter in the rock beneath the cathedral.