Green Location Strategies

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Tom Freeman
Mission Critical Solutions

A few days ago, my colleague, Spencer Jurman, used the upcoming Uptime Institute Symposium as an occasion to discuss green data center trends from an operations perspective. I’d like to add my thoughts on green strategies in selecting and negotiating data center sites as well.

Unlike other commercial property types, data center location strategies are not based primarily on transportation access, visibility or proximity to large pools of skilled labor. In most cases, large enterprise data centers don’t even need to be near the people using the data.  One thing that does matter is low cost and since energy is a major component of life-cycle cost in data centers, the overall cost of energy is a significant locational factor. Some considerations:

• Climate – An area that gets extreme heat or cold through much of the year can effect cooling costs. The optimal climate would be a consistent temperature range with cooler temperatures throughout the year.

• Low-cost kilowat-hours – Recognize that the least expensive energy today may not be the lowest cost option over the long-term. Increasing legislative and regulatory mandates on energy sources at all levels of government will ramp up the cost of non-renewable energy in the years ahead. In selecting a data center site, determine how much of the local utility’s electricity is generated by renewable sources now and what is planned in the future. 

• Incentives –  Some state and communities pursue large data center investments with sustainable operations much more aggressively than others, resulting in substantial cost savings for companies pursuing data center development.  More than 30 states offer rebates at the state, local or utility level for implementing renewable technologies.   In addition, a dozen states or so have legislated economic incentives, such as sales tax abatements for large data center investments.

So, the correct strategy toward a cost-effective and green data center project starts with the proper attention to site selection.  No amount of design imagination can overcome the challenges of choosing the wrong site.

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