Syracuse University and IBM Corp. are building a new self-powered, energy-efficient computer data center that officials hope will become a model of green technology and help American schools and businesses save billions of dollars.

The key feature of the new $12.4 million building will be an onsite natural gas-fueled electrical generation system that will allow the center to operate entirely off the grid. The building, to be completed by the end of the year, is expected to use about half the energy of a typical data center, officials said at a groundbreaking ceremony on the Syracuse campus last month.

"We have learned...

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