Restoring More Water Than We Consume by 2030

The climate crisis demands urgent action from all of us. At Facebook, we’ve invested in renewable energy and committed to reaching net zero emissions across our value chain in 2030. We’re also working to connect people with authoritative climate information. Today, we’re building on these efforts and announcing a new goal to be water positive by 2030. This means Facebook will return more water to the environment than we consumed for our global operations. 

Reaching this ambitious goal will require a combination of water restoration efforts starting in regions that are highly water stressed, as well as technologies to increase water efficiency at our facilities. Over the last decade, we’ve invested in new ways to make our data centers more water and energy efficient with a focus on sustainable solutions. As of 2020, our entire global footprint of offices and data centers have been supported by 100% renewable energy and we reached net zero emissions. We did this in large part by investing in the development of new clean energy generation in the places where we use the most electricity. In addition, our commitment to renewable energy has provided hundreds of billions of gallons of water savings since wind and solar energy use less water than fossil fuels. 

We’ve already been taking a similar approach with water, and have invested in water restoration projects that will replenish more than 850 million gallons of water per year. In regions experiencing high levels of water stress, these projects have already restored about 595 million gallons of water in 2020. These water restoration projects offer significant benefits both to local communities and their surrounding ecosystems, particularly in water stressed regions.

Water restoration stat graphic

These efforts range from sustaining aquatic habitats by supplying fresh water to river systems during dry seasons and providing drinking water to Navajo Nation families, to modernizing agricultural irrigation infrastructure to reduce the amount of water being extracted from at-risk sources. In Bernalillo County, New Mexico, for example, we’re providing funding to the Rio Grande Water Fund to restore the connection between the stressed Cedro Creek and its historic floodplain. This work increases climate resiliency in the region by mitigating drought and increasing biodiversity, restoring almost 20 million gallons of water per year. 

For our current water restoration work under way in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Oregon and California, we partnered with trusted, local environmental non-profits and utility providers to identify projects that would have the greatest impact. In the coming years we plan to expand this work internationally, including in Ireland, Singapore, India, UK, and Mexico. 

Beyond restoring water to local watersheds, we will continue to find ways to reduce our water usage across our operations. For example, we use onsite recycled water systems at some of our global offices. And we’ll keep working to develop new technologies and operational efficiencies to make our data centers even more water efficient. Over the last decade, these technologies, including allowing our data centers to be cooled with outside air, have enabled our data centers to operate 80% more water efficiently on average compared to the industry standard. And we see opportunities for additional gains in the coming years, particularly as our infrastructure grows, and we’ll need to develop water-efficient designs for different climates. 

We also understand that sometimes the most impactful contributions to the sustainability of a watershed go beyond projects that return water. That’s why we are also investing in projects that may have a catalytic effect in watersheds around the world. These projects could include supporting local environmental non-profits, governance, research, and other non-volume-generating activities.

Becoming water positive by 2030 is a long-term goal, but like our goal to make our entire value chain net zero in 2030, it’s one we’re confident we can achieve based on the enormous advances made over the last decade. We believe commitments like these can make a meaningful contribution to the global race to build a more sustainable future.  

this post was first published on About Facebook

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