Facebook to add two buildings at Los Lunas hub - Albuquerque Journal

Facebook to add two buildings at Los Lunas hub

Site manager Tony Perea at Facebook’s Los Lunas data center Wednesday. The company will add two more buildings to its campus there, expanding its investment there by $800 million. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Facebook will add two more buildings to its massive data center in Los Lunas, expanding its investment there by $800 million, the company announced Wednesday.

The California-based social media giant, which broke ground in fall 2016 on its local data center complex, had planned to construct six buildings at Huning Business Park near Interstate 25 and N.M. 6. Now, it will expand its 730-acre campus there to eight buildings, increasing its total investment from an estimated $1.2 billion previously to $2 billion going forward, the company said.

It will be another three or four years before the entire complex is fully operational. But three of the initial six buildings are already up and running, Facebook Construction Manager Charles Tomlin told reporters during a tour of the campus Wednesday morning.

One half of the fourth building has also come online, with the other half expected to power up late next year. And construction is steadily advancing on the fifth and sixth facilities, which are scheduled for completion in 2023.

Now, with two more buildings in the works, Facebook expects to employ 400 permanent workers once the full campus is operational, up from 300 permanent employees it projected with six buildings. And the additional construction means extended employment for roughly 1,100 temporary workers.

“We’ve had about 1,100 construction workers steadily employed here since December 2016,” Tomlin said. “That’s five continuous years with that number of workers on site.”

Facebook’s expansion drew enthusiastic praise from state and local officials.

“With more than 1,000 construction workers on site every day at the Facebook Data Center and hundreds of permanent full-time employees, all of New Mexico can agree the data center project has been a boon to New Mexico and a great benefit to Los Lunas and Valencia County,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego said the local community is “beyond excited” about Facebook’s latest announcement.

“It goes without saying that the economic impacts along with the direct and indirect jobs created from this project have been felt throughout the state, but it’s our residents, local businesses, schools and nonprofits that have largely benefitted from having one of the most high-tech and recognized brands in the world be located within the Village of Los Lunas,” Griego said in a statement.

Indeed, the Facebook project has generated a boom in local economic development.

The village’s gross receipts tax collection has more than doubled since 2016, from a monthly average of about $297,000 between 2008 and 2015 to $638,000 since 2016, said Mark Roper, Economic Development Department division director.

“That’s not all from Facebook, but it’s all Facebook-related,” Roper told the Journal. “There’s new residential subdivisions going in, and new coffee shops and hotels and other businesses.”

Kristen Gamboa of the village’s Community Economic Development Department said Los Lunas, with a population of 17,000, is the state’s second-fastest growing area outside of Albuquerque after Rio Rancho.

“That’s huge,” Gamboa said.

The Los Lunas project is one of 18 Facebook data centers worldwide, including 14 in the U.S., that are either under construction or already operating. The massive server farms provide the information-processing power and cloud-based storage needed for billions of global consumers connected to Facebook and its other social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.

Once complete, the Los Lunas complex will include 32 individual “data halls,” each with 30 racks of servers that, taken together, hold 3,200 individual servers per hall, said Facebook site manager Tony Perea. That amounts to nearly 100,000 servers among the eight buildings planned for the Los Lunas campus.

“Just one server storage rack encompasses enough capacity to contain the entire Library of Congress,” Perea said.

Each of the eight buildings on campus will include four different data halls, and each of those halls will be connected to a separate room with extensive rows of networking equipment and fiber cable. The networking rooms instantaneously send incoming information from Facebook users to the data halls for processing and storage, while also receiving information back from the data halls for real-time relay back to social media users.

Each building on campus encompasses about 500,000 square feet of space, with each one running the length of four football fields, Perea said.

The buildings require pervasive cooling systems, because data center operations generate a lot of heat. And that, in turn, requires lots of water, something that has raised concerns among local residents in Los Lunas and Valencia County, given New Mexico’s chronic drought.

The Los Lunas facility, however, includes state-of-the-art cooling systems that make Facebook’s operation 80% more water efficient than average data centers, according to the company. That includes ceiling ducts that pull in outside air, plus a network of fans to circulate the cool air throughout buildings. The data center also repeatedly recycles water through the cooling system before discharging it as wastewater, and it harvests and treats rainwater on site to reduce use of potable water.

In addition, Facebook is working with environmental organizations around New Mexico on water restoration projects that end up putting more water back into the Rio Grande and other reservoirs than is consumed by the Los Lunas data center. In 2020 alone, those restoration projects restored about 64 million gallons of water to New Mexico watersheds, according to the company.

And Facebook announced a new goal Wednesday to restore 200% of the water that the data center consumes into New Mexico watersheds.

“We know water is an important issue in New Mexico, and that is why we are committing to restoring twice as much water as we consume to local watersheds through partnerships with environmental organizations,” Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure Rachel Peterson said in a statement.

The Los Lunas center derives all its electricity from renewable generation through a partnership with Public Service Company of New Mexico, which built eight wind and solar facilities to date that supply a total 395 megawatts of electricity to the data center. And Facebook announced Wednesday a new agreement for PNM to build two more solar facilities to supply another 240 MW of renewable generation.

Separately, the company announced approval Wednesday of a new $225,000 grant for Valencia County and wireless Internet provider Lokket Inc. to bring free Wi-Fi to up to 900 homes.

Since 2016, Facebook has provided more than $2.3 million in grants and donations to local organizations and schools.

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