One big downside to the virtual world we’ve created is the amount of energy needed to power the devices and data centers that sustain it. A new data center planned for construction in the Swedish city of Falun could change the game if others follow. EcoDataCenter calls itself “the world’s first climate positive data center,” and it’s designed to have a negative carbon footprint over the course of a year.

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The main factor in EcoDataCenter’s carbon negative status lies in its connection to the local district heating system, which allows it to make good use of the significant amounts of heat generated by the servers inside. The district heating system in Falun won an award in 2013 from the Global District Energy Climate Awards as one of the best in the world, and uses heat from the servers to warm local buildings in the winter. In the summer, excess steam from the local electricity plant will run the machines that cool the data center.

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“The collaboration between the data center and the district heating system will ensure that the emissions are reduced to the extent that EcoDataCenter will have a negative carbon dioxide footprint over the course of a year,” says Bengt Gustafsson, CEO of Falu Energi and Vatten – the company behind the EcoDataCenter. “We are connecting the data center to an already sustainable energy system and can make use of all the energy. Thereby we are building the very first climate positive data center in the world.

Along with its efficient use of the heat generated by the servers, the company notes that the electricity powering the data center comes completely from renewable sources like solar, wind and water power, along with secondary biofuels.

+ EcoDataCenter

Images via EcoDataCenter