The cavern beneath Helsinki's beautiful Uspenski Cathedral will soon shelter a brand new server farm for local technology company Academica and along with it, a new source of heating for homes in the area. The waste heat from the IT center will be captured and channeled into Helsinki's district heating system.

It is estimated that the IT sector accounts for as much as 3 percent of total global energy consumption and that number is expected to rise to 5 percent in the next decade. And though servers and new technologies such as cloud computing are helping to reduce the energy impact of the Internet, they nevertheless generate a huge amount of heat, requiring an equally huge amount of AC to keep them running at peak operating conditions.

The Helsinki project will eliminate the need for cooling, which can account for 50 percent (or more) of a server farm's total energy consumption. That alone would qualify it as super energy efficient, but the fact that the waste heat is providing essentially free “renewable” energy allows Helsingin Energia to name this the greenest IT center in the world.

The data center will provide all the heating needs for about 500 homes and an added bonus — security that money can’t buy. The racks of servers will be housed inside a World War II bomb shelter in the rock beneath the cathedral.

Helsinki Cathedral to house hi-tech source of energy
WWII bomb shelter under Helsinki cathedral becomes a chapel for energy efficient servers while heating hundreds of homes.