IBM will use plenty of green technologies in its US$86 million data centre expansion in Boulder, Colorado. The company said that the new facility will be the company's largest data centre globally.

The project, involving high-density computing systems that use server and storage virtualisation, and energy-efficient power and cooling systems, is part of IBM’s goal to double its data-centre capacity by 2010 without increasing energy usage or carbon emissions, says Rich Lechner, IBM’s vice president for IT optimisation. "This is about growth,” Lechner says. “The reason we’re building these data centres is we continue to have growth in our clients’ demands. It’s about growing in an eco-friendly way."

The Boulder data centre, currently measuring 225,000 square feet, will increase to more than 300,000 square feet once the expansion is complete next year. The new space will be 45 percent more energy efficient than a typical IBM data centre, due to efficient building designs, new lighting systems as well as highly efficient air conditioning and extensive use of virtualisation, Lechner said.

Virtualisation technology will also be applied to the existing 225,000-square-foot data centre to make it more efficient. Through a variety of methods, such as use of software called PowerExecutive that manages and monitors power consumption, IBM has reduced its carbon emissions 40 percent since 1995, according to Lechner.

The Boulder data centre hosts IBM’s internal operations as well as those of customers, such as the United States Tennis Association. The IBM facility hosts scoring applications and web servers for the tennis organisation, he says. The Boulder expansion is being completed partly to accommodate a $480 million, five-year agreement with a new customer IBM has declined to name publicly.

On 10 May, IBM announced Project Big Green, in which it will spend $1 billion per year to increase IT energy efficiency both for itself and clients.