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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.

From the Book

Grow a Greener Data Center

Grow a Greener Data Center



When evaluating a potential Data Center site, consider local factors including electrical mix, weather conditions, building codes, and work-force proximity because each of these influence how green your facility can be.

Durable building materials need replacement less often and, therefore, consume fewer resources. Pick materials composed of renewable resources, recycled content, or substances that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Also choose items with less-embodied energy and embodied emissions.

Maintain good air quality by using building components such as paints, carpeting, and office equipment that have little or no volatile organic compounds, and be sure to thoroughly ventilate the building during construction.

Choose energy-efficient building fixtures and appliances such as lighting components, office electronics, power strips, kitchen appliances, and plumbing fixtures.

Insulate the Data Center from external temperatures by placing it at the center of the building. Employing a distributed design for the Data Center's structured cabling requires less cabling, thereby reducing the amount of materials that are consumed, than a direct-connect design.

Several green features can be incorporated into the exterior of your building including highly reflective cool roofs or vegetation-bearing living roofs, each of which reduce heat island effects. A photovoltaic system can also be installed—either on a rooftop or integrated into building surfaces—with its efficiency influenced by location, climate, sun exposure, and air quality.

Landscaping affects the thermal load, water usage, air quality, and other green elements of your building. Choose drought tolerant and low maintenance plants and strategically place trees to shade buildings and parking lots. Irrigate efficiently, use mulch to save water and reduce erosion, allow grass clippings to decompose on lawn areas, limit the use of pesticides, and avoid excess pruning.

Consider photovoltaic installations on the grounds of your site as well. Pervious concrete and porous asphalt allow water to pass through, reducing storm-water runoff and heat islands. You can use a rainwater collection system to gather an alternate source of water for nonpotable uses such as landscaping.

Reduce the environmental impact of your building construction site by establishing separate areas to store materials, unpackage fixtures, sort recyclables, collect salvageable items, and dispose of construction waste. Prohibit construction activity in sensitive portions of the site. Mitigate dust, smoke, and odors; control erosion and wastewater runoff; minimize noise and vibrations; and manage construction waste.

Have your building commissioned to ensure that its infrastructure systems work correctly in conjunction with one another. The scope of commissioning can vary, but systems that are commonly reviewed include HVAC, building management, primary and standby electrical, fire detection and suppression, plumbing, elevators, building envelope, roofing, and voice and data distribution.

You can implement several green design and build approaches just as effectively during the retrofit of an existing Data Center as during construction of a new facility.