Microsoft: Grey Water Swayed Site Location

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Add recycled water to the growing checklist of criteria that may sway site location decisions for major data center projects. In a video interview on TechNet, Microsoft’s Michael Manos says the availability of recycled water – also known as grey water – swayed the company’s choice of San Antonio for a $550 million data center complex.

“One of the factors for our San Antonio facility was the availability of recycled water,” said Manos, the senior director of Data Center Services for Microsoft. “Data centers consume lots of water, so if you can find an application where you’re using recycled or grey water in support of that facility, you’re not taking water out of the municipal system or the aquifer to impact the local environment. It’s a good reuse of that water for the data center, and has the pragmatic benefit of having a lower cost than taking water out of the municipal supply.”


Grey water comprises 50 to 80 percent of residential wastewater, and includes all wastewater except toilet wastes and food wastes (which are classified as “black water” waste). Grey water is usually treated before being reused in industrial processes, which can affect the economics of using recycled water instead of municipal water.

Microsoft considers more than 30 criteria in its data center site location decisions. The company’s discussion of recycled water is a clear indicator that environmental considerations are gaining greater prominence on checklists for projects with huge economic development potential.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.