Facility managers and decision-makers generally place a heavy focus on interior components during data center design and construction. Often overlooked, however, is the opportunity to optimize the building’s shell.
Opting for custom-designed engineered buildings and applying a continuous improvement strategy when constructing the shell can result in improved project schedules, costs and outcomes. This approach helps businesses think through key decisions throughout initial planning stages, an important competitive advantage.
Additionally, reducing the timeline for deployment of the data center can have a major impact on project ROI. Consider the findings of a 2013 study which determined an hour of downtime costs data centers an average of $474,000. Now think about the added value schedule savings can provide.
Strategies to accelerate deployment include:
- Identify opportunities for standardization. We’ve seen heightened interest from major data center customers in tightening specifications for interior components (such as rack density) to reduce variability, but few have applied those same principles to the building’s envelope. Opportunities exist to take a more standardized approach to the building shell that still allows for site-specific customization requirements.
One such solution is opting for a building that marries a custom-designed engineered roof and structural system with conventional tilt-up walls through a design-build approach. The manufactured building components of a systems solution help ensure consistent construction through an optimized envelope and deliver a schedule up to 30 percent faster compared with a conventional construction approach. This strategy is important whether you’re working on your initial build or multisite projects.
- Establish a long-term team for strategic collaboration. Identifying a consistent team is an important component in standardizing the building process across projects. In addition to reduced variability, facility managers and decision-makers can access captured lessons learned resulting in increased efficiencies from one project to the next.
- Identify building team members with broad capabilities. An integrated team focused on your success ensures each partner is vested in finding the best solutions and acting on them. Enlisting a global leader in building solutions with multiple capabilities will drive efficiency. For example, a building systems manufacturer that offers a centralized program management team for projects can provide early conceptual design services in addition to production engineering/detailing and manufacturing resources to accelerate your project.
As the U.S. data center market matures and the Asian and European markets continue to heat up, this best practice will continue to grow in importance.
Additionally, find team members who align with your corporate goals. Is sustainability part of your organization’s identity? Look for options that offer energy analysis, so you can optimize the design.
The building envelope has potential to add value beyond the typical project requirements — value that can lead to significant ROI improvements for both the first costs and life-of-building improvements. Equipped with these three strategies to accelerate deployment, data center facility managers and decision-makers can help improve the speed and quality of their building projects and increase ROI.
Michael Dolan is a senior global corporate accounts manager with Butler Manufacturing.