You wouldn’t think that major data centers could go light on the environment, but think again — there are more than a handful of server farms out there making an effort to protect the environment while pushing bits and bytes. Whereas standard data center consume lots of electricity and produce an intense amount of heat, some extraordinary companies are tapping into their building sites to naturally cool their systems or even heat surrounding buildings. Hit the jump to learn more about 5 companies who are using their server farms for more than just data storage.

As business as we know it becomes more and more reliant upon complex computer systems, the subsequent data centers are growing just as fast as the businesses they support. Busy sprawling server farms get really hot and heavy, heating up as the data centers work overtime.
The world needs server farms to process our increasing digital data, but these facilities consume massive amounts of energy to keep the processors from overheating, as well as release excessive heat into the environment, contributing to global warming. Some extraordinary companies are tapping into the benefits of their locations to naturally cool their systems with Arctic air or sea water, while others welcome the excess heat, and harness it to heat local homes.Read on for 5 smart companies who are using their server farms and the environment to work together.

The mountains in Stavanger, Norway are home to cool glacial-fed fjords and icy temperatures. But deep inside one peak, the Green Mountain Data Center is busy processing digital data. About 21,000 square meters underground hosts the facility’s warehouses, administration, and 9 data server halls, which pump out a lot of heat. One of the greenest data centers in the world, Green Mountain is powered  by renewable energy, and naturally cooled by water from the neighboring fjord. The center is kept further cool by its location deep underground, which uses its natural low temperature, and surrounding rock as moderators. Green Mountain is not only energy efficient, but produces a zero carbon footprint.

Built in 1868, the beautiful Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki is the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe. Beneath the cathedral, the natural bedrock gives way to a cave, which is home to Helsinki Energy and Academica’s server farm. The cave is networked to a system of underground pipes, which captures the excess heat produced by the server farm, and pumps it into the city. Around 500 homes are fully heated, fed only by Uspenski’s underground server farm!

Apple’s North Carolina Data Center runs the processor information for the new iCloud- and also consumes massive amounts of energy, which until recently was produced by dirty coal. But late last fall they were given clearance to build a massive solar farm on the 171 acres of land near the data center. The new plan turned a once dirty operation into an eco-friendly, renewable energy center that powers some of the hottest consumer technology.

UK start-up Verne Global is the proud owner of the world’s first zero-carbon data center in Keflavik, Iceland. Modular glass and steel climate-controlled boxes were built off site by Colt, a leading telecom and IT company. The entire facility is housed in a shell building that runs solely on Iceland’s readily available geothermal and hydroelectric power. Combined with Iceland’s cold air, it is naturally an ideal locale for data centers that can provide services for companies world wide.

Google is constantly impressing us with its usage of renewable energy and biofuels that have made it a carbon neutral company. Solar power, pig poop, and now ocean water is helping the megacompany achieve their energy efficient status. Their data center in Finland occupies an abandoned pulp mill, revamped into a busy data center. Using the cool waters from the Baltic Sea, preexisting tunnels beneath the center act as heat exchangers, cooling down the hectic servers inside. The heated water is sent to another building to mix with sea water, before sending the cooled water to sea. The seawater exchange saves the adaptive reuse facility half of the energy that would be required with conventional energy.