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Data center envy

This new 20,836-square- foot constr uction consolidated all of the Community Health Network of Indianapolis’ data center components into one off-campus two- story location. The first floor contains electrical equipment, a shipping and receiving area, equipment storage and a bench area for equipment prep and deployment. The second fl oor consists of a 6,500-square-foot data fl oor to hold the server and equipment racks. The fi rst phase built out only 3,387 square feet of the second fl oor, while the rest of the space will be used at a later date. The project also contains

a secure equipment yard that houses air-cooled chillers (which also have a free-cooling option to take advantage of the Indiana winters), emergency generators and a permanently installed load bank capable of routine testing of the entire facility’s design loads without potential disruptions to current operations. Cable trays and wire-management systems were installed beneath the raised fl oor to provide a very clean and wire-free appearance. The authors were intimately involved with the planning and construction of this data center.

Power needs and heat generation also have major implica- tions for data center fl oor design and usage, as well as cooling, electrical and power systems designs. Keeping data centers cooled is no easy task, particularly when the computing equipment and fl oor layout create numerous hot spots that must be addressed.

Fred Jaeckle is VP of pre- construction and estimating, and Brian Nuehring is director of estimating for S.M. Wilson & Co. For more information on S.M. Wilson & Co.:

Air- and water-based cool- ing systems are both avail- able, although the water-based systems are now in greater demand due to their cooling efficiency and lower overall energy usage. Both options have green features, such as re-use and re-circulation of air

and water. However, air-based cooling systems do require the use of chemical refrigerants. The design and implementation of these systems require a contractor with a strong sense of mechanical, electrical and plumbing expertise. A knowledgeable and experienced CM/GC can play a vitally important role in the planning and construction of

a successful data center. The planning team members can have a natural bias and expertise in their area of specialty, such as the IT gurus, but may lack the facilities or me- chanical knowledge to make fully informed decisions. An experienced general contractor can help create the project’s parameters, help each planning team member understand and connect with the needs of the other team members and lead the client through all necessary and relevant issues and decisions. An experienced general contractor can also help tie in the data center to future physical changes planned on the client’s campus, thus creating a complete campus-wide interface process.

Construction of a data center also requires the purchase

of signifi cant information technology hardware and equip- ment not found in most commercial construction projects. Many such components require long lead times. Understand- ing the very high level of sophistication and complexities involved in data centers can only come from experience. Only when all of the pre-construction planning and deci- sions have been made can the layout, design and construction of the new facility begin to move forward.


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