Page 28 — Office & Industrial Quarterly — March 2023 INDUSTRIAL — MARKET UPDATE C urrent trends in increasing data gen- eration are driving power density and placing stringent demands on data centers. With the world’s insatiable digital need, it’s estimated the number of online devices will reach 29 billion in 2030, and the volume of generated data will reach 175 zettabytes by 2025. As a result of our data-driven needs, data centers con- sume between 1% and 3% of global electricity, creating growing urgency and oppor- tunity to make data centers more sustainable and miti- gate environmental impact. n Retrofitting existing assets. Demand for increas- ing data center infrastruc- ture requires scalable and quick-to- deploy results, and for many data center clients, retrofit- ting is the solution. Retrofit- ting is the process of improving, upgrading or renovat- ing existing facilities and adding new equipment or expanding capacities to meet changing demands and technologies. Sig- nificant investment in the retrofitting process is anticipated to help reduce emissions from new builds or demolitions. Across the board, all sizes of upgrades and expansions are now as important to our market as greenfield builds. We know that sustainabil- ity, efficiency and optimiza- tion are key determining factors for owners choos- ing the retrofit route to meet the changing market demands. Retrofits of mis- sion-critical facilities fall into one of two categories. The first is expanding or renovating an existing data center. The second is con- verting a building designed for an alternative use into a data center. Both have substantial environmental benefits and cost efficien- cies for clients. n Facility modernization with lasting benefits. Using an integrated approach, data center retrofits under- go significant design and engineering work, coupled with critical facilities com- missioning, to meet new requirements and stan- dards replacing ineffective operating systems. Typical upgrade and refresh cycles to modernize data facili- ties occur roughly every five years, with modernization including server virtualiza- tion, improving cooling sys- tems to lower power usage effectiveness, optimizing air flow, use of an energy-effi- cient uninterruptible power supply, power distribution units and generators, and upgrading facility moni- toring and controls. These upgrade cycles are happen- ing in significant numbers – more than we’ve ever seen before as an industry – due to the facilities constructed over the past decade that now require moderniza- tion to align with techno- logical changes and digital advancements driving efficiency. In the U.S. alone, millions of square feet of data center spaces are already in need of altera- tion and retrofitting to con- tinue to meet this demand. The modernization process is technology driven, as changing out legacy servers to optimize the electrical and mechanical infrastruc- ture ensures the highest level of sustainability. n Adopting innovative and changing technologies. With a building retrofit, contrac- tors can meet targets for reduced emissions, embod- ied carbon and energy consumption, especially considering data centers account for 2.3% of green- house gas and 0.5% CO2 emissions today. The indus- try is currently on track with plans to operate all hyperscale providers’ data centers with 100% renew- able energy and achieve carbon neutral operations by 2050. Understanding how a data center performs is key to identifying ways to improve it. As efficiencies are identified, the retro- fit will encompass major modernization for optimum performance with sustain- ability and carbon footprint considerations. Knowing that up to 50% of power used in a data center goes to cooling is important and can drive introduction of new cooling technologies, creating the most efficient infrastructure possible. A new approach to cooling systems creates a longer technology lifespan and has a significant impact on the bottom line and reduc- ing carbon emissions. Even when designing for future loads, the data center cool- ing system must continu- ally be monitored to ensure it can adapt to and meet the rapidly changing needs since information technol- ogy refreshes occur after an approximate two-year life. Advocating and planning for adaptable and scalable solutions will effectively protect assets for long-term success and meet the fre- quently changing environ- mental control challenges. All data center cooling technologies greatly impact power consumption. Sev- eral options can lead to a more sustainable practice since emerging technolo- gies that change the way cold air is used conserve energy and lower PUE. We know now that servers can operate at higher ambient temperatures than we’ve run them at in the past, and this is a quick and easy way to cut energy and improve Data center modernization promotes sustainability Danny Horton Sr. Project manager, Data Centers, PCL Construction Please see Hornton, Page 32