Guide to Comprehensive Data Center Water Usage – (Part II) Analyzing Data Center Water Consumption & Cooling Practices Among Major Companies


The water usage of data centers is subject to fluctuations influenced by factors like facility size, cooling system type, and external climate conditions, such as temperature and humidity. Generally, these facilities exhibit lower water consumption during winter and higher consumption during summer. Elevated outdoor temperatures amplify the demand for energy in cooling systems, consequently necessitating more water to maintain the optimal internal air temperature within the data center.

1. Data Center Water Usage: Unveiling the Consumption

Illustrating data center water consumption, two categories emerge: i) hyperscale data centers and ii) wholesale and retail data centers. Regardless of the type, a singular data center has an annual water consumption in the order of several million liters.

Water Consumption in Hyperscale Data Centers

Hyperscale data centers, specifically designed for cloud service providers (CSPs) and major internet companies, exhibit substantial water consumption. With power capacities ranging from 10 to 100 megawatts and expansive footprints often spanning millions of square feet, these facilities have notably high water usage.

An illustrative example is Google’s hyperscale data centers, crucial for supporting cloud regions and core products like Gmail, Google Drive, and YouTube. Over the past year, these centers averaged a daily water consumption of 2.1 million liters, translating to an annual total of approximately 760 million liters.

Water Consumption in Wholesale and Retail Data Centers

In contrast to their larger counterparts, smaller data centers typically ranging from 9,000 to 23,000 square meters, these facilities demonstrated an average daily water usage of approximately 68,100 liters, totaling 24.9 million liters annually. The peak recorded daily water usage for an individual data center in this region reached around 333,100 liters, corresponding to approximately 121.6 million liters annually. Notably, these water consumption figures stand in stark contrast to the considerably higher usage levels observed in Google’s larger hyperscale data centers.

2. Cooling Efficiency: The Story Behind Data Center Water

After water is utilized for cooling data centers, the subsequent actions depend on the design of the cooling system and adherence to environmental regulations:

Recirculation and Reuse: Many cooling systems involve the recirculation of water. Once it absorbs heat from the data center, the warmed water undergoes cooling processes (e.g., cooling towers or heat exchangers) and is then reused in the system.

Discharge: Some cooling systems discharge used water as industrial wastewater. This discharge typically goes to a nearby wastewater treatment facility or into bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, or oceans. Regulatory measures ensure that the discharged water’s temperature doesn’t adversely affect the local ecosystem.

Evaporative Cooling: Systems like cooling towers utilize evaporative cooling, where a portion of the water evaporates, contributing to cooling while causing water loss. This process is efficient for cooling but necessitates replenishment.

Effective water treatment, whether conducted on-site or at an external wastewater treatment plant, allows for the repeated use of water in a data center’s cooling system. The feasibility of recycling depends on the water meeting specific quality standards, such as acceptable hardness levels.

3. Major Companies and Data Centers: A Closer Look at Water Consumption

Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and major internet companies, commonly known as hyperscalers, have recently disclosed information regarding their data center water usage. Prominent hyperscalers including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google, and Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook), have committed to achieving water positivity by the year 2030.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) – Amazon Web Services (AWS) aims to achieve water positivity by 2030, surpassing the amount of water it consumes in its direct operations by contributing more water back to communities and the environment. This commitment extends to AWS leased, owned, and colocation data centers, along with AWS offices. The water use strategy for each operational AWS Region is anchored in the company’s commitments to its data centers.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) employs two primary cooling strategies: direct evaporative cooling and free-air cooling.

Microsoft – Microsoft is committed to achieving water positivity in its direct operations by 2030, aiming to replenish more water globally than it consumes. The company’s water consumption strategy is centered on two key pillars:

Reducing Water Use Intensity: Microsoft focuses on decreasing the amount of water used per megawatt of energy expended in its operations.

Replenishing Water: Microsoft prioritizes replenishing water in regions facing water stress where its operations are situated.

In the latest reported figures, Microsoft’s water consumption from its operations has reached nearly 6.4 million cubic meters. This is equivalent to approximately 6.4 billion liters, reflecting a 34% increase in consumption compared to the previous year.

Google – Google has pledged to exceed its water consumption through a comprehensive commitment to water replenishment by 2030, prioritizing water security in the communities where it operates. This initiative involves substantial investments in community projects to replenish 120% of its water consumption across all global offices and data centers. In simpler terms, Google aims to give back 20% more fresh water to the environment annually than it utilizes.

To fulfill its water-related goals, Google is concentrating on three key areas:

Responsible Water Use: Google is dedicated to improving water resource management across its office campuses and data centers.

Watersheds and Communities: The focus is on replenishing Google’s water usage, enhancing watershed health, and supporting ecosystems in water-stressed communities.

Water Security with Technology: Google is committed to sharing technology and tools that empower individuals to predict, prevent, and recover from water stress, contributing to overall water security.

Facebook (Meta Platforms) – Facebook has committed to achieving water positivity by 2030, signifying its intent to replenish more water to the environment than it consumes (through evaporation) in its global operations. In pursuit of this objective, Meta plans to restore 200% of the water it consumes in regions facing high water stress and 100% in areas with medium water stress.

Meta’s water usage strategy revolves around three core principles:

Sourcing Water Responsibly: Meta is dedicated to responsible water sourcing practices.

Driving Water Efficiency: The company actively promotes water efficiency measures throughout its facilities and operations.

Investing in Restoration Projects: Meta invests in critical water restoration initiatives within the same watersheds where its facilities are located.

Apple – Apple is dedicated to reducing water impacts throughout its product manufacturing, service usage, and facility operations, including offices, data centers, and retail stores. The company’s focus on addressing the water footprint of both its corporate sites and supplier sites involves the following key initiatives:

Using Water Efficiently: Apple is actively working to optimize water usage in its operations.

Minimizing Freshwater Use: The company is expanding the utilization of alternative water sources, including on-site reuse, to decrease reliance on freshwater.

Improving Water Discharge Quality: Apple is committed to enhancing the quality of water it releases into the environment.

Protecting Shared Water Resources: The company is actively engaged in preserving shared water resources and maintaining the health of watersheds, benefiting all those dependent on them.

Part I – Why Do Data Centers Use Water?

Media Contact
Universal Smart Data Center Technology
Phone: (+84) 28 73080708


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post: