Sustainable Data Center Design? Niobrara Offers Premium Sustainability

Energy efficiency is a top priority for data center owners and operators, especially as businesses depend more on their colocation investments. Data center tenants have taken a more vested interest in sustainable power usage in recent years as well, as less-than-optimal energy consumption can add unplanned costs to their data center finance plans and curtail their overall return on investment. Many of the industry’s leading minds continue to develop next generation data center design methods that can make a serious dent in power consumption and related costs, giving rise to a number of facilities that headline their energy efficient methods as their greatest asset.

The Niobrara Data Center Energy Park has been recently making waves in the industry with an energy efficiency plan that has the potential to cut data center costs in half. The Colorado colocation site, developed by Niobrara and CH2M Hill, a Denver-based global consulting design firm, could revolutionize data center economic models with drastic updates to data center sustainability design and energy efficiency, according to Green Manufacturer.

At 662 acres, this Colorado data center park offers a process-ready, flexible site that still awaits a data center developer, the news source reported. Among the site’s features, engineered by CH2M Hill, include a telecommunications nexus, a traditional power grid, an onsite water source and 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas available per day. Its power will come from several sources, including onsite solar panels as well as from nearby alternative sources such as wind and geothermal plants, wrote TreeHugger contributor Megan Treacy. The park also offers state-of-the-art energy reliability using three separate gas pipelines for triple redundancy. This gives the site “microgrid” status, according Treacy, as it can shut off the main grid in the event of a malfunction and continue to operate.

Additionally, the site’s northeastern Colorado climate will provide natural server cooling, allowing tenants to save on power-sucking cooling systems. These environmental factors, coupled with the state’s favorable tax offerings for data center providers and users, could cut capital expenditures by 40 percent to 50 percent, Green Manufacturer reported.

Environmental Sustainability Breeds Economic Sustainability
Many organizations struggle to reduce their energy consumption using legacy infrastructure, a limited method that will prove less sufficient over time. Niobrara and CH2M recently gave a presentation that focused on the need for increased investment in green IT. Data center owners, operators and tenants can lead this charge, particularly as data centers become more accountable for the energy they need to consume in order to function smoothly. They delivered the presentation at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle. CH2M Hill representatives have touted the Energy Park, the nation’s first hybrid data center utilizing a mix of natural gas and renewable energy, as a revolutionary progression in the effort to ramp up data center energy efficiency capacities.

The Niobrara Data Center Energy Park was the recipient of a 2011 Climate Change Business Journal Award and a 2011 Environment Business Journal Award, both of which recognized the site’s innovation in renewable energy development.

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