- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced that social media giant Facebook is building its ninth U.S. data center just outside of Atlanta in Newton County, Georgia, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Facebook is making a $750 million initial investment and is expected to spend a total of $2.5 billion, excluding land costs and equipment upgrades, on building and outfitting the center through 2029.
- The 970,000-square-foot data center will be built in four phases and will spread across two connected buildings. The facility will be 100% powered by renewable energy, most likely solar.
- Construction is set to start immediately, generating hundreds of construction jobs and creating 100 permanent positions once the data center becomes operational in 2020. Facebook could sink as much as $42 billion into the data center during the next 20 years.
The hot spot for data center construction is Northern Virginia, but as land becomes scarce – and more expensive – companies like Facebook and the growing industry of third-party providers could start searching for cheaper locations. And as the world becomes more data-driven, the need for additional data centers is going to continue to grow.
But even though Northern Virginia is a popular area to build data centers, according to Dodge Data and Analytics, the 10 biggest data center projects launched between 2014 and 2017 were spread all across the U.S., with only one in Virginia. The largest was a $1.2 billion Microsoft data center in West Des Moines, Iowa, followed by a Facebook center ($750 million) in Sandston, Virginia, Switch's SuperNap data center ($600 million) in McCarran, Nevada, and the McClellan Business Park/Xtream center ($600 million) in McClellan, California.
The most important considerations for data center location, aside from enough land to build on, is proximity to high-quality fiber infrastructure, inexpensive power costs and a ready supply of water. Mike Kilkeary, an associate principal engineer at Southland Industries, told Construction Dive in November that water plays a critical role in data center cooling solutions, especially for those operators who have made energy efficiency a priority.
Incentive packages are also starting to play a big role in where businesses build data centers. For example, in exchange for Facebook building a data center in Los Lunas, New Mexico, the state agreed to give the company a 30-year, $30 billion property tax break, local grants worth $10 million, $3 million for job training and up to $1.6 million a year in gross receipts tax reimbursement.