Collaborative partnership improves sustainability of data centres

A collaborative partnership between a major construction company and a critical infrastructures specialist is opening the door for clients to access sector-specific expertise at the earliest stages of projects, and in turn support the improved sustainability of these power-hungry facilities. These key benefits are the direct result of the combined skill sets of Interserve, the international support services and construction group, and Sudlows, the UK’s leading experts in the design, installation and commissioning of innovative data centre environments. Tabu Chanda, Strategic Account Director of Interserve and Andy Hirst, Technical Director of Sudlows, explain more.

The carbon emitted per square metre within data centres is huge compared to that of other types of corporate space such as offices and depots. Given that companies above a certain size are now encouraged to reduce carbon emissions to gain the benefits available from the Carbon Reduction Commitment Scheme, improvements in the environmental performance of data centres can have an enormous effect on the overall carbon footprint of a company, while also generating significant cost savings.

Many companies do not realise the extent to which they can improve the carbon footprint of their data centres: supporting not only their Corporate Social Responsibility goals but also lowering their running costs. This is true of both existing data centres and of those at the planning stage. Clients are experts in their own fields, but not necessarily experts in data centres. Other clients are aware that they can improve the carbon footprint of their data centre, but are not necessarily familiar with the best ways in which this can be achieved.

In order to optimise the environmental performance of data centres (whether upgraded or new build) the bringing together of a team at the earliest stage of design that offers the requisite level of specialist expertise is a key driver to success. This means that the skills of the architects and M&E consultants can be supplemented at this very early stage with data centre experts who are regularly exposed to the latest innovations and construction techniques specifically in this market.

Before new data centres are built or existing ones further developed, Sudlows and Interserve work collaboratively with a client’s architects and M&E consultants to improve data centres’ environmental credentials when compared to the more traditional way of bringing in this niche expertise after the design is more developed.

There are three distinct areas in which the Interserve/Sudlows collaboration is bringing benefits for data centre owners in environmental and cost-saving terms: critical power; control and monitoring; and cooling.

Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is a key measure of data centre efficiency. Often the ‘holy grail’ of data centre ownership is increasing the number of servers without using more power or indeed without having to build a whole new data centre. This again is a key area in which the Interserve/Sudlows collaborative partnership is able to help through clever reconfiguration. Sudlows has a unique perspective on this as it is currently acting as Ambassador for the European Union Code of Conduct for Data Centre Energy Efficiency.

The current landscape of the data centre market often sees the client, architect, M&E consultant, provider and contractor working in silos with the full bandwidth of skills required only coming together later in the process. The Interserve/Sudlows collaborative partnership seeks to improve this situation with niche expertise being available at the earliest stages of project development. Construction and data centre expertise combined to develop optimised solutions, with client’s and their professional teams all backed by the financial firepower of a FTSE250 company.

Further assurance is provided given the fact that the partnership is governed by the BS11000 (Collaborative Business Relationships) standard, to which Interserve is accredited.

The data centre sector is highly specialised, and the impact of these facilities failing can be catastrophic for businesses. The Interserve/Sudlows collaborative partnership has been borne out of a recognition that the sector should be treated as fundamental to clients’ ‘business as usual’ activities, and that with this in mind the partnership’s depth and breadth of skills provide assurance for clients, particularly at the feasibility and design stages of projects as well as during the delivery phase.

There is opportunity through the partnership’s combined skills to help clients engage with it at the earliest stage of project development, drawing upon Interserve’s knowledge of complex project delivery and Sudlows’ expertise across data centres, specialist technologies and innovation in this field.



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