Green Data Center Design
There are many unique data center designs out there that are revolutionizing the way that the world thinks of data centers. No longer do we mandate that data centers be in a large box. As we’ve seen in the past few years, data centers can come in all shapes and sizes. Let’s take a look at some of the most innovative data centers out there right now.
Google – Hamina, Finland
This new data center from Google is in an old paper plant, located on the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea. The original paper plant was equipped with underground tunnels designed to suck in sea water to power the plant. By utilizing the initial design, Google was able to reconfigure the structure to allow sea water to power the cooling system instead of electricity. They also designed a tempering building to mix the heated water back with cool ocean water before released back into the sea. This design feature was important to make sure that there was little to no environmental impact on the ocean’s ecosystem in the area.
Yahoo – Lockport, New York
Yahoo’s famous “chicken coop” data center has been open for about a year now. The facility is designed to maximize the use of free air cooling, which is made easier by its location in upstate New York. In fact, there are only 9 days out of a year when free cooling cannot be used. The facility enjoys a PUE of 1.08, which is remarkable. The design was inspired by farmers, and uses a complicated louver system to control the airflow throughout the buildings.
Iron Mountain – Boyers, PA
Talk about secure! This data center is built in an old limestone mine in western Pennsylvania. It’s located around 200 feet below ground, which allows it to take advantage of the naturally cool air to maintain the facility. The natural limestone walls also play a part in this by absorbing heat produced by the data center equipment.
Microsoft – Chicago
Much has been made about Microsoft’s Chicago data center, where servers are housed in 40 foot shipping containers. The data center is one of the largest in the world, and has the capacity to hold 112 containers full of servers on top of traditional data center server rooms. One of the interesting aspects about this data center is that the containers themselves vary widely, with many coming from different vendors. Some utilize a center aisle system, while others use a side aisle. Some containers hold strictly servers, while others also house power equipment. It will be interesting to see the useful life of these containers, and how they fair in years to come.
Lakeside – Chicago
Chicago seems to have more than its fair share of innovative data centers. The Lakeside Technology Center could certainly win an award for the prettiest data center. Housed in the old R.R. Donnelly building, the developers of the building turned it from an old printing factory to a state of the art carrier hotel. It now houses several big name clients, including Equinix and Global Center. The original building is nearing 100 years old, and showcases the craftsmanship of the day in the details of the building. Because it was built to support the heavy printing presses of the day, the transition to a data center was relatively seamless.
Hewlett Packard – Wynyard, England
We’ve already talked about cooling by sea water, but this data center is cooled by sea air from the North Sea. This data center uses a lower floor that cycles the outside air through the facility, allowing free cooling for all but about 20 hours a year. This allows the facility to maintain a PUE of roughly 1.2. Another unique design feature is that the servers are kept in white cabinets, which reflects more light and helps save on the lighting bill
Citi – Frankfurt, Germany
This data center was the first ever to ear LEED-platinum certification, due to many energy saving design aspects of the building. The most noticeable is the “green” roof, which helps regulate the internal temperature of the building, as well as absorbing rain water. This allows the facility to operate on outside air cooling 63% of the year. When the temperature won’t allow for outside air to be used, the facility cools down by using a reverse osmosis water treatment, which helps to save 13 million gallons of water per year. That’s a lot of water!