When you think of the green buildings that meet the U.S. Green Building Council's tough LEED standards, one often thinks first of gleaming office towers loaded with energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems, recyclable building products in the most unusual places, and the latest in energy-saving windows and roofing materials.

Energy-efficient data centers don't often come to mind. But because these facilities must provide ultra-reliable 24/7 power to the outsourced data storage and computing needs of corporate America, these buildings are massive users of electricity. Think about all the heat your personal computer gives off. Now think about all the heat a warehouse loaded with high-capacity servers generates, and the air-conditioning system needed to keep those computers operating at just the right temperature. According to 365 Main Inc., a San Francisco-based developer of data centers, the aggregate power consumption by servers and data centers in the United States has more than doubled since 2000 to about 45 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2005, and accounts for about 1.2 percent of the country's electricity consumption. A 2007 report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist Dr. Jonathan G. Koomey, said the electricity costs for the servers and associated infrastructure reached $2.7 billion in 2005 and is increasing steadily.

365 Main Inc. is seeking LEED certification for its 136,410-square-foot data center in Newark, Calif. Customers at this facility can lease customizable private rooms from 5,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet in the data center, which has computer room air handlers that consume 30 percent less energy than traditional models by allowing air conditioning units to intelligently ramp up and down to achieve required under-floor air pressure. Along with having energy-efficient lighting, lighting controls and water-efficient landscaping, the facility's air handlers use 100 percent outside air on days when the temperature is cool enough to achieve data center cooling requirements.