The management of data center HVAC technology requires a skill set distinct from the maintenance of systems in other asset classes, ones that is evolving rapidly as data streaming becomes more central to the global economy. Bisnow spoke with Boland account executive Mark Shell to explore his thoughts on what it takes for data centers to keep up with accelerating demand.
Bisnow: What is the most challenging part of designing and constructing new data centers that meet sustainability and efficiency goals?
Shell: The challenge is twofold: breaking paradigms to transition from long-standing technologies to more innovative technology that achieves energy-efficiency targets and doing so on a compressed design schedule. Clients want more space and a quicker delivery at a reduced cost while meeting the security, reliability and redundancy needs of the unique tenants. This, along with other key parameters, has also been challenging.
Bisnow: How have changing energy-efficiency guidelines affected design plans for cooling systems in data centers?
Shell: The ASHRAE Handbook, in 2011 HVAC Applications Chapter 19, required an operational temperature range from 64.4 degrees to 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2015, the range was expanded from 59 to 90 degrees. This singular change helped spur next-generation designs allowing significantly more free cooling hours of operation driving operating costs down. The higher chilled water temperatures that resulted from these changes made the use of conventional computer room air conditioning/air handler equipment more problematic as increased kilowatts in a single rack continue to grow.