Case Studies Meta
Meta Friends Virginia
Increasing Capacity Demands
With over three billion users and counting, Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has become the most popular social media platform worldwide since its founding in 2004. On top of a massive user base, Meta owns popular apps Instagram and WhatsApp, and also streams live video. To meet the ever-growing demands of serving substantial amounts of traffic, Meta regularly evaluates data center needs to increase capacity while keeping its energy footprint low. After zeroing in on the East Coast, Meta set out to find the location for its eighth U.S. data center in 2017.
The Virginia Solution
A Data Center Giant
Virginia hosts the largest data center market in the world and Northern Virginia is home to more than 20% of all known hyperscale data centers worldwide. Data centers operating in the Commonwealth benefit from densely packed fiber backbones and a massive network of data centers that currently move an estimated 70% of the world’s internet traffic daily, as well as an advantageous cost environment centered on a competitive tax rate, affordable and abundant electricity with rapidly expanding renewable power options, and competitive construction costs. With the highest concentration of tech talent in the U.S., as well as the third-largest tech industry workforce in the U.S., Virginia boasts one of the largest data center workforces in the nation.
Henrico County’s Powerful Digital Ecosystem
Henrico County, located in Greater Richmond, offered a shovel-ready site and fast-track permitting. White Oak Technology Park, a master-planned, high-tech manufacturing center conveniently located at the intersection of I-295 and I-64, is optimally designed to meet the scale and digital speed requirements for data centers. White Oak houses the QTS Richmond Network Access Point (NAP) and DE-CIX Richmond, offering access to subsea cables MAREA, BRUSA, SAEx1, and Dunant and providing a gateway to the largest interconnection ecosystem in North America. The park is served by Dominion Energy via two 230 KVA transmission lines, has significant water and sewer capacity, and offers connectivity through multiple fiber providers.
An Energetic Partner
While Henrico County clearly met the critical elements of Meta’s search, the environmentally conscious company also prioritized being able to source clean and 100% renewable energy for its newest data center. Dominion Energy and Meta worked together to create a renewable energy tariff called Schedule RF. The tariff allows Meta and other large energy users to meet their needs through the addition of renewable energy sources. As a secondary economic benefit, the renewable energy projects served under this tariff must be completed in Virginia.
Meta Updates Status in Virginia
In October 2017, Meta announced plans to establish a 970,000-square-foot data center in the White Oak Technology Park in Henrico County. The company committed to investing $750 million in the project, as well as hundreds of millions of additional dollars in the construction of multiple solar facilities to service Meta’s Henrico Data Center with 100 percent renewable energy.
Site work began in February 2018, thanks to Henrico County’s fast permitting approval program and the development-ready site at White Oak Technology Park. In September 2018, Meta announced an additional investment of $750 million to construct three new 500,000-square-foot buildings. The first phase of the Henrico Data Center campus officially went online in August 2020 and is being delivered in multiple phases, with an anticipated completion date of late 2023.
The $1 billion campus is estimated to be at least four football fields long, a total of 2.5 million square feet across more than 350 acres, and cooled using outside air. At full operational capacity, Meta will employ at least 200 Virginians in positions that include technical operations, electricians, air-conditioning and heating specialists, culinary, cleaning, logistics, security, and more.
Meta has worked closely with Dominion Energy and other partners to bring over 500MW of new renewable energy to the Virginia grid, and the Henrico campus is supported by 100 percent new solar energy sourced from the Commonwealth. In 2021, Meta announced that the Henrico Data Center was awarded LEED Gold certification, a program that focuses on energy modeling rather than actual energy consumption. Meta’s Henrico operations were at least 80% more water efficient than the average data center, 100% solar powered, and recycled over 50,000 tons (82%) of its construction waste in 2021.
Virginia offers Meta the full package: infrastructure with room to grow, access to renewable energy, and a talented pool of employees to keep the Henrico Data Center online for years to come.