Building performance standards dont fit data-centre thermal demands?

Published on 28th February 2012 by Ian Bitterlin

Is it just me or have I missed something?  I regularly see organisations proudly announcing that their latest data facility has been awarded LEED or BREAAM or 'other' building energy performance Certification.  Very laudable in 99.99% of the worlds' new buildings (more or less all those that are not data-centres) I still don't understand how increasing the thermal insulation of a building whose primary goal is to remove it to the outside and dump it can be regarded as 'efficient'.  In many environments I can envisage it taking more energy to transfer the waste heat if the building is thermally efficient.   It brings up the sticky topic of energy re-use and the best example I have seen to date (best, not least, because it is on a multi-MW scale) is that of Equinix in the Netherlands.  They are building a mega-centre next to a large university and in the summer they pump heat into the aquifer for the university to pump it back out in the winter - brilliant and brave, not least with CapEx.  OK, I know that there are many other 'points' to the performance schemes, like grey-water use etc, that also can be applied to data-centres but the thermal rating of the walls & roof gets you most of the way to the medal table.


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Prof. Ian Bitterlin is the Chief Technology Officer for Emerson Network Power – the world leader in data-centre power and cooling infrastructure solutions and integrated DCIM software. Recognized in the industry as an expert mechanical and electrical engineer, Ian has produced numerous wh ... More