by Dave Macaulay
In addition to 14,700 sf of critical whitespace, the data center includes a high-end operations center, large tape storage room and support spaces such as build and main distribution frame (MDF) rooms. The building and systems are sized to support two more data halls of 14,000 sf each with 2.4 MW of critical power and cooling.
Data center design still places a premium on security, redundancy and uptime. Yet even as virtualization and cloud computing technologies continue to evolve dramatically, so too does the growing importance of operational efficiency within critical facilities. One new data center for a major West Coast public utility, now nearing completion, exemplifies this "new norm." It is innovation rich, relies on a broad set of sustainable MEP solutions and is on target to achieve LEED Gold certification.
Here, energy conservation is a top priority – designed to demonstrate sustainable technologies along with reliability, performance and scalability. The utility also aims to set a new benchmark for data centers within its regional market, showcasing the possibilities of efficiency, flexibility and energy savings through use of materials and design.
To realize this new prototype, the utility looked to a project team that included Turner Construction, Callison and Glumac. “We had the freedom and the mandate to step outside of normal data center requirements and do something better and less costly...more efficient,” notes Mike Steinmann, P.E., Principal and electrical engineer in Glumac’s Critical Facilities Group. And to meet strict budget constraints, as well as operational and legal requirements, the client and team agreed on a design-build approach – decidedly non-traditional for public projects.
“In terms of an enterprise data center, this new building
offers a lot of the efficiencies of a modular data center, like those
used for cloud computing. So we’ve tried to bring in a number of those
elements and maintain the flexibility that the client needs for their
-Bill Fetterley, Director, Calllison
The team’s design concepts focused on two areas: power utilization effectiveness (PUE) and water efficiency. Central to this scheme, Glumac specified an indirect evaporative cooling system (IDEC), as an alternative to a conventional chilled water plant, for climate control. In combination with air-side economizer air handling units (AHUs), this rooftop IDEC system recirculates air within the building’s whitespace area – essentially using an evaporative process on incoming air to deliver cooler temperatures.
The data center’s indirect evaporative cooling system represents a vast departure from traditional data center cooling that relies on a chilled water system with computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units around the perimeter within a raised-floor environment.
Designers also recommended use of a flywheel uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system for energy storage, rather than a traditional bank of chemical batteries. This flywheel UPS, integrated into the center’s critical power architecture, represents another significant innovation for the project. In the event of a disruption or weak power conditions, the system assumes the entire electrical load, providing backup power for 15- to 20-second transition periods until the center’s generators start. As an alternative to conventional UPS devices, these units may be deployed within a denser environment, contain no hazardous materials (lead or sulfuric acid) and do not require strict temperature controls.
Other unique elements of the new data center include two rainwater harvesting/reclamation systems and a waste heat recovery system used to warm office spaces in winter.
“The client wants to utilize this new data center as a model
for their own corporate facilities. Yet they also want it to serve as a
model for their customers, setting the standard for the regional market
on what can be achieved through efficient, sustainable design
Damon Barnett, Business Development Manager, Turner Construction
Strong collaboration allowed project team members to achieve LEED criteria more efficiently within the design-build framework. Coordinated decision-making also led to measurable performance improvements. Compared to a traditional data center operating with a PUE of 2.0, the client requested that designers aim for a PUE of 1.5 or less. As a result of the building’s many innovative features, Glumac estimates the operations will achieve a peak PUE of 1.48 and an annual average PUE of 1.26 – and that total energy performance will beat ASHRAE 90.1 by about 32 percent.
TIER LEVEL: III
CRITICAL IT POWER: 2.4 MW
TOTAL AREA: 80,000 sf
WHITESPACE AREA: 14,700 sf
MEP ENGINEER: Glumac
CONTRACTOR: Turner Construction Company
ESTIMATED COMPLETION DATE: May 2012