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The company seeks to burnish its sustainability bona fides.

Facebook parent Meta is aiming to cut the volume of water used in its datacenters by operating servers at higher temperatures and lower humidity levels. Meta said the plan is part of its commitment to become ‘water positive’ by 2030.

The move is the latest in a series of datacenter sustainability initiatives by tech giants. Microsoft, for example, has announced a plan to cut its water consumption by up to 94 percent by 2024. Amazon Web Services (AWS) also announced a sustainability commitment to reduce water usage.

Meta claims it has been running pilot programs in which it adjusted the environment in one half of a datacenter while keeping the other intact for comparison. In the most recent tests, Meta successfully raised the upper operating temperature from 85°F to 90°F (29.4°C to 32.2°C).

“Within our datacenters, water is used to cool our servers and maintain humidity levels. For locations that face environmental challenges – such as high levels of dust, extreme humidity, or elevated salinity – we are constantly finding innovative ways to minimize our water use,” the organization said.

In 2021, Meta announced the goal to become water positive by 2030. This means that Meta will restore more water to the environment than they consume for global operations.

Pursuing a policy of ‘water stewardship’

This water sustainability project goes beyond tweaking the way datacenters operate. A number of Meta’s global offices, including the headquarters in California, utilize on-site recycled water systems. The organization also aims to reduce its water use by installing efficient plumbing fixtures and planting low-consumption plants that reduce irrigation needs. 

‘Water stewardship’, which the UN Industrial Development Organization defines as “using water in a way that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial”, has always been an important part of Meta’s sustainability program, the organization claims. “Our datacenters, which use water to cool servers and maintain optimal humidity, are among the most water-efficient in the world.”

Tip: Underwater datacenters open up shop before the end of the year