Building a Data Center: Choosing the Right Design Team
In today’s challenging business climate, designing, financing and constructing a multi-tenant data center project is a challenge; even for established data center owner / operators.
Having a design and engineering team that understands the challenges associated with this process can help. Highly qualified engineering firms understand not only the options and efficiencies of design, but also the cost to build and operate the data center. Increasingly, the design and engineering teams need to play a larger role in these investment and financial elements of the project. Although first cost is always of great importance, the cost to maintain and operate the data center over a 20 year period is even more substantial. The best design decisions today tend to be based on a total cost of ownership (TCO) model, and carefully measure costs of energy and water consumption as well as repairs and maintenance.
It is very important that the design/engineering team review and analyze multiple options not only for design topology, but also for equipment and construction materials. The best way to make a fully-informed decision is to engage with an engineering firm of true consulting engineers that provide unbiased design recommendations.
One of the primary differences in multi-tenant data centers for smaller and mid-sized firms is the need for phasing. Getting the first space operational with the required eye toward the master plan and full build takes extra effort from all project stakeholders and an integrated project plan. Zoning and entitlements, air quality permits, water and power services, acoustics, CFD analysis, coordination for BMS and controls and a laundry list of similar necessary coordination items provide an opportunity for consulting engineering firms to differentiate and provide a true value-add to their clients. It is particularly important that consulting engineering firms that understand how to help smaller and mid-sized firms with this process.
For our new data center in Cheyenne, WY, we worked closely with Deerns America to gain a deeper understanding of ways to achieve these goals carefully considering ways to balance first cost with the TCO model. Green House Data and Deerns worked closely to assure that the data center operations team, the constructor, and finance teams were able to develop a modular and scalable design that met not only our reliability and sustainability initiatives but the budget as well.
Read more about the planning that goes into building a data center by reading Shawn Mill's "A Data Center Build Series":