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Green Data Center Design and Build Strategies

Chapter Description

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.

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Strategies for a Greener Construction Site

Construction sites have an inherent messiness to them. Dirt is kicked up as heavy machinery rumbles across the property. Mountains of packaging material form as building fixtures are unwrapped. Scrap building materials accumulate as items are cut to specific sizes. Even the minor leavings of lunches, multiplied by hundreds of people working on site for months, can have a significant impact upon the surrounding environment if not managed in some way.

It's therefore important that just as you design your Data Center to have less environmental impact, so too plan your construction site. Designate separate areas to store building materials, unpackage and assemble building fixtures and appliances, deposit recyclable items (packaging, bottles, and the like), deposit salvageable items (such as leftover building materials), and dispose of construction waste. If the property is undeveloped, carefully choose the makeshift roads that construction vehicles carve in to the property to limit disruption of the soil. Define vulnerable areas on the job site where construction activity is not allowed.

Other approaches to make the construction phase of your Data Center project greener include the following:

  • Mitigating dust, smoke, and odors: Effective dust control measures include limiting site traffic, reducing vehicle speeds, installing wind fencing, covering dirt piles, and watering regularly at the site.
  • Controlling erosion and waste-water runoff: Prevent sediment, debris, or other pollutants from entering nearby streams or storm drains by employing diversion ditches, silt fencing, and other retention structures. Minimize soil disturbance, limit grading to small areas, and place ground coverings over exposed areas.
  • Minimizing noise and vibrations: Newer construction equipment bearing muffling devices can be notably quieter and generate less-powerful vibrations than older systems. Install barriers, such as chain-link fencing mounted with plywood and sound-absorbing mats, at the start of the project. Set up temporary barriers around stationary construction activities known to generate noise (for example, a worker cutting notches in panels for a Data Center raised floor). Include noise-related financial incentives and penalties in your construction contracts so that on-site workers are accountable for noise mitigation. Measure on-site noise periodically.
  • Managing construction waste: Save money and make your Data Center project greener by reducing how much construction waste is produced and then reusing or recycling what is created. To reduce waste, standardize on building material sizes to make leftover stock less likely. Ask suppliers to consolidate packaging and take back transport materials such as pallets. Separate construction debris into recyclable and nonrecyclable materials; then seek out a local company that buys and resells secondhand construction materials to reuse your leftover materials.
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