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Green Data Center Design and Build Strategies

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This chapter discusses methods for limiting the environmental impact that occurs during the construction of a Data Center through decisions concerning physical location, choice of building materials, landscaping choices and jobsite construction practices.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

This chapter discusses methods for limiting the environmental impact that occurs during the construction of a Data Center through decisions concerning physical location, choice of building materials, landscaping choices, and jobsite construction practices.

Siting the Data Center

The location of your Data Center can have a lot to do with how green it is. If your server environment is built in a region that possesses an abundance of renewable energy, for instance, you have a head start on a facility where such resources are rare.

Some companies, especially smaller ones, don't have the luxury of choosing among multiple potential sites for their Data Center. The hosting environment is, by default, going to be constructed at the same place where the rest of their operations or office space is. If you do have an ability to choose, however, consider the following local conditions when you evaluate potential Data Center sites:

  • Electrical mix: As discussed in Chapter 2, "Measuring Green Data Centers," some energy sources spawn much more carbon dioxide when used to produce electricity than others. Deciding to locate your Data Center in a region where electricity has a lower carbon emissions factor is an excellent way to make the facility greener before design work begins. (You can find more information about electrical mix in Chapter 4, "Powering Your Way to a Greener Data Center.")
  • Weather: Some Data Center energy-efficiency measures can be implemented only with the cooperation of Mother Nature. For instance, air side economizers that use outside air to chill a Data Center (discussed in Chapter 5, "Cooling Your Way to a Greener Data Center") are more practical to use in regions where it's cold much of the year rather than in areas where it's usually warm or mild.
  • Building codes: Are the green measures that you intend to include in your building allowed by the regional building codes? If they aren't, can you either do without that efficiency or else invest the time and effort to negotiate for a variance for your project?
  • Work-force proximity: Although not a Data Center design issue per se, the distance that employees commute to reach your facility affects how much carbon dioxide they generate every day. It's for this reason that some environmental building assessment systems award points for features that promote alternative transportation, such as close proximity to public transit or installing bicycle storage units.

As green as you want your Data Center to be, it's impractical to select a site solely on its environmental merits. Above all else, the server environment needs to be reliable—it does your business no good to have a green Data Center if the facility doesn't adequately safeguard your hardware and mission-critical data. Other factors that you should consider when evaluating potential Data Center sites include the following:

  • Property zoning: Is construction of a Data Center allowed at the location?
  • Natural disasters: Is the region prone to earthquakes, ice storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, landslides, fire, or other severe events?
  • Pollution: How is the air quality at the location? Is there any risk of IT equipment exposure to dust, industrial byproducts, or other contaminants?
  • Interference: Are there any nearby sources of electromagnetic interference (also called radio frequency interference) such as telecommunication signal facilities or airports?
  • Vibration: Are there any nearby sources of vibration such as railroads, major roads, or construction?
  • Political climate: Is the region politically stable or do conditions exist that might jeopardize the safety of employees or operation of a Data Center?
  • Flight paths: Is the property within the flight path of an airport, increasing the possibility of a plane crashing onto the site?
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