Facebook, in 2017 begun working towards attaining a broader goal of water sustainability. Many of the company’s data centres are located in areas such as Arizona, Oregon, Utah, California. Since these places are scarce in water, Facebook launched a series of projects that would try to reduce the consumption of water by its data centres. Recently, the company has also committed that it would become ‘Water Positive’ by 2030. Such far-fetched targets are slowly becoming a tradition in the sector, given that other reputed companies such as Apple has also been trying to attain a goal of carbon neutrality. Microsoft, in addition promises to eliminate all the carbon from the environment that it has ever generated by 2050.
Reasons behind Facebook’s commitment
“The Climate crisis demands urgent action from all of us.”
Despite undertaking a number of water restoration projects, United States has to face aggravating situations such as frequent droughts. The scarcity of water causes power-cuts and other hindrances that are difficult to put up with. Therefore, it becomes a social responsibility of organizations across the world to help its people during times of crisis. This is one of the reasons why Facebook plans on restoring water in several countries such as Ireland, across U.K., U.S.A. and others. Being a social media platform, with the largest number of users, Facebook has the ability to encourage people and other associated businesses to participate and contribute in these worsening situations.
Previously, Facebook has managed to get itself into conflict with local businesses in places such as Albuquerque. This is solely because other businesses also operate on water, while Facebook is granted with 0.5bn litres of water per year which plays a major role of cooling in its data centres. Facebook showed its concern in reducing water consumption by finding alternatives to its process of cooling, especially in drought prone areas with a lower water accessibility. The company is not only worried about developing new technologies for its purposes, but has also tried restoring water.
Steps taken by Facebook towards water positivity
Facebook seems to have realised that restoring water is as important as reducing its consumption. Thereby, taking necessary steps by planning a series of water restoration projects that are to be implemented in all the wate-stressed regions.
- There has been an 80% increase in water efficiency so far, that in turn, has been boosted with a set of new projects.
- Undertaking projects that follows United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. The ‘Water Stewardship’ has always been prioritised by Facebook. The four important aspects of it are taken into consideration: social acceptance, equality in distribution, sustainability and economic benefits.
- Water replenishment across several states in the U.S., including water-scarce areas such as Utah, New Mexico, etc. Reports say that the company has the potential of replenishing 850 million gallons of water every year in these states.
- Launched water projects that restored around 595million gallons of water in 2020.
- Reaching out to the Navajo Nation families by helping them with drinking water and supplying fresh water to the rivers.
- The company has also made efforts in introducing technologies such as low-water-use plants that would acquire less water to perform agricultural activities.
- It has supported Rio Grande Water Fund in Bernalillo County, New Mexico. The fund is used for restoring 20million gallons of water every year.
- Besides, Facebook has taken measures to ensure water quality and its hygiene.
Some other associated projects undertaken by Facebook
Based on the advances made in the last decade, Facebook is sure that it would achieve the long-term goal by 2030. In order to intensify the impact of its water positive approach, Facebook has taken up several projects that support the idea of water sustainability in the past years. Here is the list
- Joining hands with Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and Ducks Unlimited to develop a wetland treatment system, spread over 206 acres of new wetlands. The system build in the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area would ensure the quality of water.
- The company has looked into the issue of groundwater supply and thus in 2017, supported the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Trout Unlimited to recharge groundwater. The area concerned is Upper Rio Grande, New Mexico whose water flow was increased using advanced tools to facilitate easy management, storage and delivery of water at times of crisis.
- California has been one of the major regions of concern and the company has ensured that the area is well-planted by supporting planting of 70,000 trees over 280 acres of private forest. This has helped restoring the 2018 wildfires that severely affected California.
- Enabled construction of a system that allows Eagle Mountain in Utah to reuse wastewater for irrigation.
- The company has contributed to an Aquifer storage and Recovery project in Prineville, Oregon. The objective of this project is to store water during winters and use them in summer.
- Facebook was also able to save 1.4 billion cubic meters of water in 2020 by using renewable energy. Thus, making its data centres water-efficient.
The effectivity of all the water restoration measures is ensured by a third-party named Volumetric Benefits Accounting Methodology. It gauges the impact initiatives and helps Facebook to constantly progress and make new advancements to sustain water. So far, all the 14 water restoration projects taken up by Facebook has been successful to a large extent.
It plans to expand its area of concern by adding more names to the list where water sustainability requires special focus. It seems like Facebook would thrive in its purpose to “restore more water than we consume.”